Published: 09:10, 26 May 2021
| Updated: 09:23, 26 May 2021
Retail giant Marks & Spencer has confirmed it plans further store closures as it looks to rebuild following the damaging impact of the lockdowns.
The firm, which has a number of stores across the county, including key outlets in Thanet, Medway, Canterbury, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, revealed this morning the pandemic had seen it record a loss of £201.2million in the year up to March 27.
The year before, it had delivered a £67.2m profit.
The chain currently has 254 of what it calls 'full-line' stores - offering clothes, food and other items. It plans to reduce that to 180.
Details of any stores under threat have not yet been revealed.
It will form part of a major reshuffle of its stores which will see some full-line stores switched to its popular Food Halls, some switched from high streets to retail parks or a merger of outlets.
It adds "in around 30 locations which can no longer support a store we will close, recapturing trade in nearby stores or online".
Stores in Ashford and Deal were closed in 2019 as part of a previous restructuring of its stores' portfolio.
Revealing the financial figures for the challenging year, store bosses reported food like-for-like revenues increased by 1.3% over the past year, but the company saw its clothing and home business report a 31.5% slump despite 53.9% online growth.
Clothing and home operations saw a £129.4m operating loss, although M&S said the performance improved in the second half of the year.
These sales have also returned to growth since the reopening of all stores on April 12, M&S said.
Steve Rowe, chief executive at Marks & Spencer, said: “In a year like no other we have delivered a resilient trading performance, thanks in no small part to the extraordinary efforts of our colleagues.
“With the right team in place to accelerate change in the trading businesses and build a trajectory for future growth, we now have a clear line of sight on the path to make M&S special again.
“The transformation has moved to the next phase.”