Nearly 500 jobs at Marks & Spencer are at risk after the retailer announced plans to close eight stores as part of a restructuring programme.
The high street giant said the 468 staff entering consultation will be offered redeployment at other stores before redundancy is considered.
The eight stores earmarked for closure across England are in Andover, Basildon, Bridlington, Denton, Falmouth, Fareham, Keighley and Stockport.
M&S said staff will be offered redeployment at other stores before redundancy is considered
It comes as the retailer also confirmed six stores will close by the end of April at Birkenhead, Bournemouth, Durham, Fforestfach in Wales, Putney and Redditch, with all staff moving to nearby stores.
The closures come as part of a major overhaul announced in November 2016, when the group unveiled plans impacting on a quarter of its clothing and home outlets.
Chief executive Steve Rowe has a five-year turnaround plan, with his tenure bringing a string of changes at M&S – including a raft of shop closures and a withdrawal from international markets as he attempts to rejuvenate the ailing retailer.
M&S recently said it would cease operations at its London distribution centre, putting 380 jobs at risk, and outsource more than half of its 430-strong IT team in a move that will cut costs by around £30 million a year.
It is closing and relocating stores, slashing clothing and home space as well as converting some shops to food-only outlets.
M&S said its previously announced plans to put the brakes on its Simply Food expansion plan will also see just 36 stores open over the next six months.
The closures by M&S come as part of a major overhaul announced in November 2016
New locations will include Broadstone, Streatham Hill and St Albans.
M&S director of retail Sacha Berendji said: ‘We’re committed to transforming M&S for our customers, colleagues and shareholders.
‘Stores will always be an integral part of our customer experience, alongside M&S.com, but we have to ensure we have the right offer in the right locations.
Will your local M&S be affected by closures?
Stores earmarked for closure:
Six stores to close by the end of April:
‘We don’t want any colleagues to leave M&S and we will work with each colleague individually on what is best for them as we endeavour to give everyone a role.
‘However, we accept in some cases we may have to consider redundancy. We believe these changes are vital for the future of M&S.
‘We will continue to accelerate the programme, taking tough but necessary decisions, as we focus on making M&S special.’
M&S currently has 1,025 stores in Britain including 302 clothing, home and food, 684 food-only and 39 outlets.
Martin Lane, managing editor of Money.co.uk, said: ‘This is distressing news for employees of Marks & Spencer and their families.
‘Now is the time to check what redundancy rights you have and dig out any income or mortgage protection policies you hold just in case.’
He added: ‘Sadly I suspect this is just the beginning of redundancies in the high street retail industry we’ll witness this year.
‘Shoppers’ habits are changing, purse strings are tightening and our reluctance to pay full price becomes more problematic for high street stores.’
Sean Moran, restructuring specialist at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, added: ‘The news is not surprising as M&S has experienced well publicised difficulties with its clothing and home space offering in what is a challenging time for the retail marketplace.
The move is part of M&S chief executive Steve Rowe’s five-year turnaround plan
‘M&S is in a similar position to the high-profile retail casualties of 2017, including Palmer & Harvey, Multiyork and Toys R Us.
‘A combination of outdated store portfolios and the failure to adapt swiftly enough to the rise of online trading has forced businesses in this sector to restructure their operations including using a company voluntary arrangement as a mechanism to ensure business survival.
M&S clothing and beauty director Jo Jenkins stepped down just weeks before Christmas
‘M&S seems to be taking proactive steps to assure the market with a reorganisation that focuses on consolidation of its core strengths as a strong mid-market food retailer whilst closing or downsizing less profitable stores on the retail side.’
Twitter users also spoke out about the closures today, with John Graham saying: ‘Marks & Spencer closing eight stores? Their store at Cheshire Oaks is like the mothership to my wife. I like the grub there.’
Patricia Hamill added: ‘Dont shop at Marks & Spencer but I do feel really sorry for the staff that will lose their jobs and any high street that’s losing a major chain.’
Last November, it was revealed that M&S would be accelerating the closure of 100 stores or departments selling clothes and products for the home.
The move came as part of a bid to cut costs, shut underperforming outlets and encourage a shift to shopping online.
It came a month after it was revealed that the M&S director of clothing and beauty was stepping down just weeks before Christmas.
Jo Jenkins, who was appointed last May after holding the role of director of womenswear, lingerie and beauty for nearly two years, left to join White Stuff.
It comes after she was said to be ‘disappointed’ to have not been selected for the role of managing director for clothing, home and beauty, according to reports.
Earlier this month it was revealed M&S’s clothing sales had fallen again. It said like-for-like sales fell 2.8 per cent in its clothing arm over the 13 weeks to December 30.