British Retail Chain Marks & Spencer To Close 25 Food Stores

Marks & Spencer, one of the leading supermarket chains in Britain, will close 25 of its small Simply Food stores and two other normal stores, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported Wednesday. 

The closures will mean the loss of 780 jobs, even as M&S plans to cut 450 head office jobs, BBC said.

 The announcement came with M&S’ Christmas trading statement, which indicated that in the 13 weeks to Dec. 27, its like-for-like sales in Britain fell by 7.1 percent.

  M&S warned that its margins would be lower this year as a result of discounting, especially in food. In the run-up to Christmas, the retailer held two sale days when it cut prices by 20 percent. Overall group sales fell by 1.2 percent, though there was a 26.9 percent increase in international sales and a 29 percent rise in online sales. Total sales in Britain fell by 3.4 percent.

 The retailer hopes that its redundancy program, store closures and pension cuts will reduce its annual running costs by between 175 million pounds (about 253.7 million U.S. dollars) and 200 million pounds (about 290 U.S. dollars).  Analysts are predicting falling profits, despite the cost-cutting measures.

 The M&S plan to close the food stores came two days after the official closure of more than 800 outlets of Woolworths, which turned out to be the first supermarket chain to crash in Britain’s economic downturn.



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