M&S 'to close dozens of high street stores' in shake-up

The new Marks and Spencer store opening soon at Longbridge retail park on the site of the former MG Rover factory developed by St Modwen

Following a day of hard headlines for the retailer, Marks & Spencer is expected to close down dozens of United Kingdom stores.

The M&S chief executive, Steve Rowe, is expected to announce the store cuts as part of a wide strategic rethink.

The amount of shops to close is said to be "in the low dozens" and will take place over a number of years but there is no indication exactly which ones are earmarked for the axe.

A number of stores are expected to be relocated, while others will see food operations being allocated space that has so far been reserved for the company's clothing range.

Rowe is expected to focus instead on expanding M&S's successful food business, which plans to add 200 small shops by 2019.

As with any significant restructuring, the changes will lead to a significant one-off charge, according to Sky's sources.

In August, 525 jobs were axed by the new chief executive at the firm's head office in a bid to cut costs.

Worldwide retrenchment will also feature in next week's presentation, with Bloomberg reporting this week that the M&S chief would signal an exit from some of its stores in China.

But on Tuesday he is expected to outline a rationalization of its worldwide operations and say how the company will make better use of its United Kingdom estate of more than 900 stores.

The retailer trades from just over 300 "full-line" stores in the United Kingdom, selling clothing, homewares and food.

M&S shares have fallen by approximately a third over the past 12 months.

Like others on the high street, M&S is struggling to adapt to changing shopping habits.

In July, the group posted its worst quarterly sales figures for a decade.

"These are not the numbers I wanted to see - not by any stretch", said Rowe at the time.

Shares in the retailer have also been driven down by roughly a third in the a year ago.

In July, Rowe revealed M&S, which issued a profit warning in May, had suffered the sharpest like-for-like decline in its clothing division in more than 10 years, with sales falling nearly 9% in the 13 weeks to 2 July.