Marks & Spencer is pulling out of its Covent Garden store and intends to close it in March, Retail Week has learned.

The retailer has served notice to landlord The Mercers Company that it is exiting the costly central London location.

The 20,000 sq ft Long Acre shop houses a Food hall, clothing department and a cafe.

Affected staff members told Retail Week that they have been informed of the store closure plans, but said they would be redeployed to other M&S stores.

Retail Week understands that M&S is now searching for a new Food hall site in the Covent Garden area.

An M&S spokeswoman said: “We’re in discussions with the landlord about our Covent Garden store. It is our intention to close the store next year.”

The closure forms part of a wider effort by M&S to shutter 10% of its UK store estate and to pull out of some international markets following a full review of is property.

It has so far confirmed that it will close six stores – in Monks Cross, Portsmouth, Slough, Warrington, Wokingham and Worksop. It is in consultation with staff and will redeploy all 380 affected at nearby stores.

The closures tie into M&S’ plan to grow its food business but to sell clothing and home goods from fewer, “more inspirational” locations that offer better ranging and availability.

The strategy includes opening 200 new food-only stores and selling clothing and home lines from 60 fewer locations.

M&S currently has 959 UK stores, including 304 full-line stores, 615 food-only stores and 40 outlets.