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Marks and Spencer boss says chain ‘on track’ to restructure its portfolio as some stores in East Anglia close - and others open

PUBLISHED: 07:53 07 November 2018 | UPDATED: 07:53 07 November 2018

Marks and Spencer in Ipswich

Marks and Spencer in Ipswich

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The boss of high street retailer Marks & Spencer said it was ‘on track’ to restructure its store portfolio as 100 branches close and newly remodelled stores open next year.

In the East Anglian region, it closed a town centre branch in Clacton earlier this year, as well as a branch in Newmarket with the loss of 38 jobs, as part of its national closures plan.

But it will be opening the doors to a new food hall in Walton-on-the-Naze on November 28, and it has extended opening hours at its Westgate Street, Ipswich, store in a bid to capture more customers.

Business leaders in Ipswich welcomed the major retailer’s move to open until 7pm instead of 6pm as a huge boost for the town and people looking to shop after work. It is hoped the longer opening hours will attract more late shoppers and keep footfall within the town centre.

Chief executive Steve Rowe said there were more changes to come, as the retailer defied expectations to reveal a 2% increase in profits to £223.5m for the first half of the year.

The chain’s revenue was down 3.1%, reflecting declining sales in both the food, and clothing and home divisions.

M&S said it does not expect much improvement in sales in the near future, as it deals with “the growth of online competition and the march of the discounters”.

“We are on track to restructure our store portfolio with over 100 full-line closures and expect to see newly remodelled stores open next year. We are fixing the basics of our online channel and there are very early signs of improvement,” said Mr Rowe.

“Every aspect of our ranges, how we trade, our supply chain and marketing is undergoing scrutiny and change.”

Earlier this year, the high street chain announced radical plans to revive its fortunes. The high street giant reported a 62.1% fall in pre-tax profit to £66.8m in the year to March 31 – dragged down by £321.1m of costs linked to store closures.

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