Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

M&S Staff's Anxious Wait to Learn If Jobs Are Safe

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

M&S Staff's Anxious Wait to Learn If Jobs Are Safe

Article excerpt

Byline: RETAIL COREENA FORD coreena.ford@ncjmedia.co.uk

NORTH East Marks & Spencer workers may have to wait as long as five years to learn if they have lost their job after the high street retailer announced plans to close 60 stores.

The fashion, food and home giant said it will close around 60 clothing and homes stores as it moves it focus firmly on to food, and it has 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.

But a spokeswoman for the firm stressed that no announcements have been made in relation to Newcastle's 10 stores or the other 20-plus stores across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham and Teesside.

She said: "We have not made any announcements about Newcastle or any other stores - what we have spoken about are the changes that will take place over the next five. No specific stores have been named yet and we will do so when appropriate."

Details of the restructure came as it said underlying pre-tax profits fell 18.6% to PS231.3m in the six months to October 1, while bottom-line profits crashed 88.4% to PS25.1m.

Chief executive Steve Rowe 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 socalled under-served areas.

The North East has around 33 stores with the closest concentration around the Newcastle and Gateshead area, which has 10, including flagship stores in Northumberland Street and the intu Metrocentre. …

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