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M&S reveals 30% drop in new store investment

Marks & Spencer spent 30 per cent less on opening UK stores in its latest full year as the retailer continued to rebalance its property estate in the face of fierce competition. 

The company, which launched a review of its store portfolio last November, said today that it spent £75m on new UK shops in the year to 1 April, compared with £106.4m the previous year.

M&S said the fall was due to opening “fewer full-line stores”, which it defines as shops that sell its full range of clothing and food.

The retailer’s clothing and homewares business has suffered from ongoing decline in sales as it grapples with the threat of online rivals, in contrast to its thriving food business. 

M&S opened three new full-line stores, relocated two and closed one during the year to April, compared with five full-line openings and two relocations the previous year.

However, it opened 30 Simply Food stores over the period, up from 25. 

M&S said in November that 30 stores will shut completely and 45 full-line stores will be downsized or replaced.

However, it plans to open 200 new food-only stores over the next five years.

Last November it emerged M&S was pulling out as anchor tenant of a £60m regeneration project in Oldham.

The retailer also reported today that spending on layout changes and rebranding of current stores fell 39 per cent to £22.6m.

Maintenance costs on its store estate rose 13 per cent to £90.3m due to “more energy-efficient in-store equipment such as lighting”, the retailer said.

Overall M&S reported a 64 per cent drop in full-year group pre-tax profit to £176.4m, partly due to a fall in clothing sales and higher costs from new openings.

Chief executive Steve Rowe said: “We achieved a huge amount in the year and while there is still much to do, I am pleased with our progress and we remain on track.”

He added: “As we anticipated, the planned restructuring of M&S has come with a cost and has impacted profits, but the business is still strongly cash-generative and we reduced our net debt.”

M&S said capital expenditure is expected to hit around £400m in the year ahead as it increases the rate of food store openings.

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