Largs benefits

M&S opening 20 shops in bricks and mortar boost

Marks & Spencer Gyle Edinburgh
M&S is opening more bricks and mortar stores (pic: Terry Murden)

Marks & Spencer is to reverse the decline in physical stores by opening 20 shops across Britain and creating 3,400 jobs.

Stuart Machin, the group’s co-chief executive, said he was committed to offering “great shops”, in spite of previously announcing plans to close 67 underperforming branches.

M&S will open eight “full-line” stores — offering clothing, homewares and food — in shopping centres in cities such as Birmingham and Manchester. Several will be based in former Debenhams sites as part of the retailer’s pledge to regenerate vacant store units.

It also will open 12 food halls, including one in Largs in North Ayrshire.

The openings will bring new store investment to £480 million and co-chief executive Stuart Machin said it would “deliver a better experience for customers” and reaffirm the retailer’s belief in physical shops.

“Stores are a core part of M&S’s omni-channel future and serve as a competitive advantage for how customers want to shop today,” he said.

M&S has more than 1,000 shops in Britain, including 247 full-line stores but intends to reduce the number to 180 by early 2026, closing 67 “lower-productivity, full-line” stores, while at the same time opening more than 100 new food sites.

M&S said the programme was underpinned by a “substantial” investment in new digital services. This includes introducing a click-and-collect service at 130 stores and scan-and-shop, which lets customers use their phone to scan and bag food items as they shop.

Mr Machin said “physical/digital” sales were of equal importance to retailers after the pandemic, which is why he was “pleased the government has not chosen to introduce an online sales tax”.

The new stores also have been designed “with families in mind”, with free parking, spacious clothing and home departments and wider aisles.

M&S said it had already noted successful performances from recently relocated stores, with payback on net capital investment within two years. One relocated store had seen overall sales more than double in December compared with the former site.

M&S also plans to extend its franchise model to expand its convenience offering

It has franchise partnerships with BP and Moto, the service station operators, SSP, the Upper Crust owner, and Costa Coffee.

M&S last week reported strong Christmas trading. Its market share in clothing and home rose to a seven-year high. Total like-for-like UK sales rose by 7.2% year-on-year to £3.2 billion in the 13 weeks to 31 December.

New stores so far confirmed:

  • Purley Way (expected Summer 2023)
  • Leeds White Rose (expected Summer 2023)
  • Liverpool (expected Summer 2023)
  • Birmingham Bullring (Autumn 2023)
  • Lakeside Thurrock (Winter 2023)
  • Trafford Centre (Winter 2023)
  • Stockport (expected Summer 2023)
  • Barnsley (expected Autumn 2023)
  • Largs (expected Winter 2023)

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