Marks & Spencer set to close Walsall store putting 94 jobs at risk
Walsall's Marks & Spencer's shop is set to close after 84 years as part of a nationwide cull by the department store chain.
More than 90 staff in Walsall face the loss of their jobs if the closure goes ahead.
Marks & Spencer says it will close more than 100 stores by 2022 as it accelerates a transformation programme that will see thousands of jobs put at risk.
The closures will affect its clothing and home stores, which have under-performed for several years.
M&S named 14 stores earmarked for closure on Tuesday, including in London's Bayswater and Holloway Road, with a total of 872 employees affected.
That list includes the Saddlers Centre store in Walsall, where 94 staff work.
Andy Barber, head of region for West Midlands at Marks & Spencer, said: “Proposing to close M&S Walsall has been a difficult decision and we will be fully supporting our loyal colleagues during this process.
"Over the coming weeks we will be speaking to each one individually about what is right for them.
“We remain committed to the area and customers can continue to shop with us at our nearby Wednesbury Foodhall which is just three miles away and offers our popular M&S.com collect in store service.”
Sacha Berendji, retail, operations and property director at Marks & Spencer, added: “Closing stores isn’t easy but it is vital for the future of M&S.
"Where we have closed stores, we are seeing an encouraging number of customers moving to nearby stores and enjoying shopping with us in a better environment which is why we’re continuing to transform our estate with pace.”
The Walsall store has been a mainstay for the town's shoppers since it opened in Park Street on June 1, 1934. The branch was moved into the Saddlers Centre in 1980.
The closures unveiled today are part of a five-year turnaround plan spearheaded by chairman Archie Norman and chief executive Steve Rowe.
They have been seeking to save costs through store closures and shutting distribution centres as part of a wide-ranging efficiency drive as the company's financial performance deteriorates.
Sacha Berendji at M&S, said: "We are making good progress with our plans to reshape our store estate to be more relevant to our customers and support our online growth plans."
Bayswater, Fleetwood Outlet in Lancashire and Newton Abbot Outlet in Devon will close by the end of July 2018. Clacton in Essex and Holloway Road will both close by early 2019.
Darlington, East Kilbride, Falkirk, Kettering, Newmarket, New Mersey Speke, Northampton, Stockton and Walsall are proposed for closure and will now enter a period of consultation with affected employees.
The announcement comes a day before the retailer is expected to unveil another troubling set of annual figures.
Wednesday's results are set to show that underlying pre-tax profit across the group fell 6 per cent to £573 million.
The company will be hoping Walsall shoppers will use its other nearby stores:
- Wednesbury Foodhall (2 miles, 6 mins away)
- Astle Outlet (6 miles, 12 mins away)
- Wolverhampton (7 miles, 23 mins away)
- Sutton Coldfield (9 miles, 26 mins away)
- Birmingham (15 miles, 29 mins away)