British high-street giant Marks and Spencer has revealed it will soon close around 100 of its biggest food and retail shops because of low profits and falling sales. The closures of the stores is not perhaps a surprise, as 30 stores have already been closed in the last eighteen months, but the sheer scale of the closures has shocked the public and created understandable concern for staff members who may lose their jobs.
Profits have been declining for the last two years at Marks and Spencer, with clothes sales falling by 1.1% and food sales falling by 0.2%.
There have been many reasons cited for Marks and Spencer’s decline. Their clothing range is seen by some as overpriced, old-fashioned and of poor quality. If a high-street store cannot produce goods of quality with a unique selling point, then customers will buy online instead. Online clothing retailers can offer a far wider range of stock and sizes without having to rent expensive floor space on the high street, and they can also offer next day or even same day delivery, so the process of ordering clothing really won’t take the customer much longer than going to a real shop.
Marks and Spencer have always been revered for their high-quality food and luxury ranges, but now the majority of supermarkets are doing similar types of food. Budget retailers, like Lidl and Aldi, are also starting to cater to a more upmarket range than previously seen.
Archie Norman, current chairman of Marks and Spencer, admits the company has problems and has not been putting in the required effort to be at the forefront of the retail world for the last fifteen years. He has been hiring and firing senior staff in the hope of kick-starting things with some new ideas.
The chief executive, Steve Rowe, has said he will be cutting prices in both food and clothing sections to try and compete with budget retailers like Aldi and Primark.
We can only wait and see how many job losses this will cause, in addition to the 900 staff members that have already been let go.
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