MARKS and Spencer has stressed that it has not published any locations in relation to its store closure proposals.

The company sought to clarify its plans following national newspaper articles featuring a list of Marks and Spencer stores which the articles said were ‘at risk’.

The list includes the Marks and Spencer store in Northwich, and the articles prompted a number of readers to contact the Guardian to express their concern over the future of the store.

A spokesperson for Marks and Spencer said: “We are very disappointed that anyone would choose to speculate in this way.

“This list is not based on any M&S data and we have not published any locations.

“What we have done is outlined plans to improve our store estate over the next five years, which include opening 200 new Food stores and selling Clothing and Home from 60 fewer stores.”

The articles and the list of stores was based on a report by Local Data Company entitled - ‘Ways a retailer can analyse its store portfolio in order to decide whether to open or close stores’.

The report said one way was to analyse the surrounding vacancy rate – the number of empty shops within a 200 metre radius - based on the understanding that areas that have large numbers of empty shops are less attractive and will therefore attract less people and subsequently sales.

The report featured an image identifying those stores in high street locations which have above average vacancy rates around them, and said towns which fitted this criteria included Northwich.