doc

THE immediate future of Marks and Spencer in Northwich has been secured as the retail giant today revealed which stores it plans to close as part of a shake-up.

Concerns mounted regarding the future of the Northwich store last November as Marks and Spencer announced its five-year UK store estate programme after a full review of its UK store portfolio.

Though the retail giant would not publish any locations in relation to its store closure proposals, a list published in a number of national newspapers named Northwich store as one that was ‘at risk’.

This prompted a number of readers to contact the Guardian to express their concern over the future of the store.

Today, Marks and Spencer revealed it is consulting with colleagues and their representatives over the proposed closure of six stores in Warrington, Portsmouth, Slough, Monks Cross, Wokingham and Worksop.

If the proposals go ahead, all 380 colleagues in the affected stores would be guaranteed redeployment at a near-by store.

Steve Rowe, chief executive of Marks and Spencer, said: “Each proposal we make will be very carefully considered with our colleagues and customers firmly front of mind.

“It is our intention that nobody leaves Marks and Spencer and we will work as hard as possible to ensure that we can deliver against this promise.”

As part of its five-year programme to improve its UK store estate, Marks and Spencer plans to open 34 new Food stores and two Clothing, Home and Food in the next six months.

The new stores include new Foodhalls in Bishopsgate, Huntingdon, Aylesbury, Spinningfields, and Strood.

Clothing, Home and Food stores will open in Bracknell and Rushden in July under the proposals.

Two Clothing, Home and Food stores will relocate this Summer in Crewe, from Market Street to the Grand Junction Retail Park and Greenock, from Oak Mall to the Port Glasgow Retail Park.

More than 1,400 jobs will be created by the new shops. Over the next five years Marks and Spencer plans to open 200 new Food-only stores and selling Clothing and Home from 60 fewer locations.

M&S currently has 959 UK stores – 304 full line stores, 615 Food-only stores and 40 Outlets.

Mr Rowe said: “Marks and Spencer stores will always be an integral part of our customer offer, working seamlessly alongside our website, M&S.com, to deliver great products and service to our customers.

“However, our customers’ shopping habits are changing.

“Picking up food for now or tonight rather than doing one big shop or browsing and shopping online and collecting in store are great examples of this and we are committed to adapting our business so that we stay in tune with our customers.

“This means there will be more Marks and Spencer colleagues working in an increased number of convenient locations, serving more customers.

“It also means that we will open new stores, some will reduce in size, some will move, some will close and others will convert to Food-only.”