Marks and Spencer hits out at ‘speculation’ as Boston store is placed on ‘danger’ list

M&S
M&S

Retail giant Marks and Spencer has hit back at a ‘danger list’ of stores – including Boston – as ‘speculation’.

The list, published by the Daily Mail, features 52 stores and was put together by retail analysts Local Data Company, through statistics from around each of the stores including the number of stores, the number of vacant stores, the health index of an area and how many rival stores there are in an area.

The report does not use any data from Marks and Spencer itself.

LDC director Matthew Hopkinson told the Daily Mail: “There are 35 towns and cities that have more than two M&S stores either on the high street, in a shopping centre or on the edge of town in a retail park.

“If one removes the large urban centres such as London, Glasgow and other cities, there are 22 towns where one might question the need for two stores.”

Boston is listed in the article as being part of a town centre that is ‘in serious decline’.

However, a spokesman for the store said the list was ‘pure speculation’

They 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.”

Marks & Spencer has said it will close around 60 clothing and home stores as it focuses on food, and warned of more than 2,100 job losses under plans to axe 53 overseas shops.

The retailer said the UK closures come as part of an overhaul which will affect around 100 stores as it looks to cut back on clothing and home while boosting its Simply Food chain.

Details of the restructure came as it said underlying pre-tax profits fell 18.6% to £231.3 million in the six months to October 1, while bottom-line profits crashed 88.4% to £25.1 million.

Chief executive Steve Rowe also outlined plans to shut 53 stores across 10 international markets - including 10 in China and seven in France, while pulling out of Belgium, Estonia, Hungary and Lithuania - putting around 2,100 jobs at risk.

M&S said it will close around 30 of its 304 full-line stores - selling clothing and home as well as food - and downsize or replace around 45 shops to Simply Food outlets.

It will also relocate some other outlets, while opening other stores in so-called under-served areas.

The group remained tight-lipped on the number of UK staff impacted by the plans, but said that, where possible, it would keep “job continuity” for affected employees.

The group insisted it would have more stores overall after the revamp, with already-announced aims to open more than 200 Simply Food outlets by the end of the 2018/19 financial year.