M&S announce store closures across the country

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Marks & Spencer has said that it is "facing facts" and rapidly accelerating its "radical" transformation plan after revealing yet another fall in annual profits.

Figures for the period to the end of March this year show pre-tax profits fell from £176.4 million to £66.8 million with the company shouldering exceptional costs of £514 million - a large chunk of which was the closure costs.

The update comes after the retailer announced the next tranche of United Kingdom stores proposed for closure yesterday, noting that it would now close over 100 stores in total by 2022.

"We have been clear about our plans to accelerate our store closure program and the action we must take to build a business with sustainable, profitable growth", an M&S spokesperson said.

Sacha Berendji-the retail, operations and property director at M&S said that that they are making nice advancement with their plans of restructuring their store chains for making them more relevant to the customers and to assist the online growth plans.

M&S shares - down 7% in the year to date and the biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 on Tuesday - rose 6% in early trading on hopes the worst is behind the 134-year-old retailer.

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In the three months to 30 December, M&S said like-for-like sales fell at its food business, where sales had been rising, as well as at its clothing and homeware division.

"M&S is now teetering on the edge of relegation from the FTSE 100 in the quarterly reshuffle next week", said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

In support of these changes, M&S expects capital expenditure of £350-400mln in 2019 but sees United Kingdom costs falling by up to 1% due to cost efficiencies and lower depreciation. "These changes come with short term costs which are reflected in today's results", said Steve Rowe, Marks & Spencer CEO in a statement.

"There are a number of structural issues to address and we are taking steps towards fixing these", Mr Rowe added.

The company is looking to improve its website, as well as investing to increase and improve e-commerce capacity, to support its ambition of doubling the online share of its Clothing & Home sales to over 33%. "Alongside relocations, conversions, downsizes and the introduction of concessions, these closures will radically reshape M&S's clothing and home space".

Food margins are expected to remain under pressure in fiscal year 2019, with the company predicting a decline of up to 50 basis points.