Retail in Asia


Marks & Spencer to shutter UK and China stores, not Singapore


Britain’s Marks & Spencer (M&S) said this week it will close around 60 stores in the UK, and will shutter more than 50 international stores, on the back of lacklustre sales growth in its apparel and home wares units across the globe.

Founded by Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer in Leeds in 1884, M&S is a retail icon of the British high-street. But, the chain has been battling years of underperformance, which remain unchanged for the first-half 0f 2016.

Announcing the store closures on Wednesday, M&S also reported an 18.6 per cent slump in first-half year profit and another fall in quarterly clothing sales during the second quarter.

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In light of this, the store closures comes as part of a turnaround directive from newcomer chief executive, Steve Rowe, who was appointed by the M&S in April 2016, to lift the retailer’s domestic and global performance.

“These are tough decisions, but vital to building a future M&S that is simpler, more relevant, multi-channel and focused on delivering sustainable returns,” said Rowe, in a press release.

M&S said the domestic closures will take place over five years. The retailer added it will also reduce the amount of space given to clothing and home wares by 10 per cent.

M&S will also shut 53 stores outside the UK Britain. Country markets include China, France, Estonia, Belgium, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, according to British media outlet, The retailer will also start consultations with 2,100 workers, it said.

Looking to Asia, M&S China will close all 10 of its current stores as the British headquarters tries to tourniquet bleeding losses.

The most recent closures follow the five China stores shutdowns in 2015.

Robinsons Group, M&S’ distributor in Singapore, confirmed that Singapore was not among the 10 countries, reported the Strait Times. It added that no M&A stores, as well as Robinsons outlets, will be closing.

Moving forward, Rowe said M&S will focus on working with franchise partners, as it does in Singapore, Vietnam and the Middle East.

It will also open 200 more Simply Foods outlets across the UK by 2019.

Marks & Spencer currently trades from 468 overseas stores across 58 international markets, with 194 owned stores and 274 franchise stores.