M&S to close Simply Food stores - after new one just opens on A140
PUBLISHED: 09:20 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:08 22 May 2019
The retail giant is to close another 85 stores and 25 Simply Food outlets after a 10% drop in profits - but aren't revealing yet where the axe will fall.
The high street retailer posted underlying pre-tax profits of £523.2 million for the year to March 30, down from £580.9 million the previous year after falling sales in its food halls and clothes sections.
This marks a further blow after the closure of 35 branches already outlined for 2018-19 - which include the store in Felixstowe, Suffolk. It hasn't been revealed where the new closures will be and just comes after a new Simply Food outlet opened at a new BP filling station on the A140 at Scole, near Diss.
M&S boss Steve Rowe said there were "green shoots" of a turnaround, but added that performance was not consistent and had been hit by its store closure programme and wide-ranging revamp plan.
The group warned that it remained in the "difficult early stages" of its turnaround and progress will largely not come until the second half of 2019-20.
In an update on its shop closure programme, it said it was relocating or reducing Simply Food shops that have lower sales as it focuses efforts on the best-performing locations.
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It said: "Our strategy is as much about right sizing, relocating and new openings as it is about closures.
"As such we anticipate our owned store base is likely to remain broadly level."
Comparable sales in its troubled womenswear arm dropped 1.6% with a 1.3% fall in the final three months after it was hit by the timing of Easter and poor stock availability.
Like-for-like sales in its food halls fell 2.3% following a 1.5% decline in the fourth quarter, although this was also affected by the timing of Easter.
Mr Rowe said: "Whilst there are green shoots, we have not been consistent in our delivery in a number of areas of the business.
"M&S is changing faster than at any time in my career - substantial changes across the business to our processes, ranges and operations - and this has constrained this year's performance, particularly in clothing and home.
"However, we remain on track with our transformation and are now well on the road to making M&S special again."