M&S is shuttering eight more stores in a move that has left the future of almost 500 jobs hanging in the balance.

As part of its ongoing transformation programme unveiled last November, M&S is to “reposition” 25% of its clothing and home space through a mixture of closures, downsizing, relocations and conversions to food-only stores.

It had already said it would close six stores by the end of April. Those have now been idenitified as Birkenhead, Bournemouth, Durham, Fforestfach, Putney and Redditch, and all staff will be redeployed to nearby shops.

M&S now plans to close eight further shops in Andover, Basildon, Bridlington, Denton (Outlet), Falmouth, Fareham, Keighley and Stockport.

The 468 staff in those stores will enter a consultation period. If the closures go ahead, staff will be offered redeployment before redundancies is considered.

M&S retail director Sacha Berendji said: “Stores will always be an integral part of our customer experience, alongside M&S.com, but we have to ensure we have the right offer in the right locations.

“We don’t want any colleagues to leave M&S and we will work with each colleague individually on what is best for them as we endeavour to give everyone a role. However, we accept in some cases we may have to consider redundancy.

“We believe these changes are vital for the future of M&S and we will continue to accelerate the programme, taking tough but necessary decisions, as we focus on making M&S special.”

Simply Food openings reduced

M&S is also reducing the number of Simply Food store openings and will now open just 36 owned and franchised stores over the next six months, creating 1,200 roles.

The store closures are part of a bid to transform the retailer’s fortunes. Under Steve Rowe and Archie Norman, M&S is grappling with 20 years of underperformance and falling clothing and home sales.

Over the all-important Christmas period, the retailer’s total UK like-for-likes fell 1.4%. That decline was led by clothing and home, where like-for-likes were down 2.8%. Meanwhile, like-for-likes at the newly under-pressure food business dipped 0.4%.

Overall, UK revenue was up 1.1% to £2.858bn. Food revenues were a bright spot, rising 3.6% to £1.66bn, while clothing and home dragged down overall revenues, dropping 2.3% to £1.2m.

M&S currently has 1,025 stores in the UK comprised of 302 clothing, home and food stores, 684 food-only stores and 39 outlets.