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Could Merry Hill's Marks & Spencer be facing closure?

Birmingham | News | Published:

A Marks & Spencer store in the Black Country has been identified as one that could close under the retail giant's restructuring plans.

M&S has confirmed it will close 30 department stores and downsize another 45 as it battles tough competition on the high street.

The firm has not yet released the names of those under threat, but retail analysts, the Local Data Company (LDC) says it has identified the type of store that could be at risk of shutting.

They say 35 towns and cities with multiple M&S stores are most likely to bear the brunt of the sweeping reforms, with Merry Hill and Birmingham among those that could be earmarked for closure.

But M&S dismissed the list as 'speculation'.

M&S has two stores at the intu Merry Hill shopping centre at Brierley Hill - one focuses on food and ladieswear, while the other in the centre sells homeware and menswear.

Local Data Company's director Matthew Hopkinson said: "Detailed analysis of M&S stores shows one possible area for rationalisation which has resulted from the recent changes to retail parks.

"M&S's retail park presence has increased by eight per cent whilst all other formats have seen closures.

"There are 35 towns and cities that have more than two M&S stores either on the High Street, in a shopping centre or on the edge of town in a retail park.

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"If one removes the large urban centres such as London (27 stores), Glasgow (6) and other cities there are 22 towns where one might question the need for two stores."

M&S announced there would be closures as part of an overhaul which will affect around 100 stores, as it looks to cut back on clothing and home, while boosting its Simply Food chain.

It confirmed that it would shut around 30 of its 304 full-line stores - selling clothing and home as well as food - and downsize or replace around 45 shops to Simply Food outlets. However Marks and Spencer has yet to name that stores which will be closing.

The group insisted it would have more stores overall after the revamp, with already-announced aims to open more than 200 Simply Food outlets by the end of the 2018/19 financial year.

A spokesperson for Marks & Spencer said: "We are very disappointed that anyone would choose to speculate in this way. This list is not based on any M&S data and we have not published any locations.

"What we have done is outlined plans to improve our store estate over the next five years which include opening 200 new Food stores and selling Clothing and Home from 60 fewer stores."

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