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As someone around here said

Marks & Spencer is closing one in four of its larger stores as it looks to save hundreds of millions of pounds on rent.

M&S told investors that it was speeding up plans to shut larger shops in the face of a “difficult economic backdrop”. It had been planning to close 67 of its full-line stores, which stock clothes and homeware, within the next five years but will now shut them within three years.

Could be M&S that’s the next to go, after the department stores. General and mixed retailing just might not have a place when any specialist retailer is able to service the entire country…….

15 thoughts on “As someone around here said”

  1. M&S has been re-inventing itself as Waitrose-without-the-sneer for 15+ years now, and this is just a step up in the rate of change. Their clothing and general merchandise clientele are getting older and dying out. M&S will continue to serve them as long as they exist, but they are fewer in number and far more car-dependent than even a decade ago and many town centres have declared war on the car which pushes older shoppers to out-of-town locations. So fewer sq ft needed for fewer customers, and one retail park location to cover an area that might have had 4 or 5 town centre sites 20 years ago, but is more convenient for customers in any of those 4 or 5 towns because they can park.

    Whether M&S will survive is a good question, but this is an acceleration in the existing direction rather than a change in it.

  2. Martin Near The M25

    Stores like M&S seem to be unable to compete on any metric – cost, quality, customer service or convenience. Or even keeping things in stock. I rarely go now as I don’t expect them to have what I want.

    They haven’t found a way to really benefit from having physical space, except to wibble on about ‘experiences’. I’ve never heard a normal person say they want this.

  3. It’s really good for an occasional treat from the food hall, and perhaps new pyjamas once every 10 years. 2010 was the last year they sold any normal summer shirts for normal people and none of that retro looking rubbish. Socks, t-shirts and underwear can handily be bought from ebay.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    They closed their big store in the middle Dorchester in the pedestrian zone, which always seemed like a desert when I went and opened food hall with coffee shop in Blandford next to the very cheap long stay car park.

    On the rare occasions I go in to the Blandford store it’s always quite busy and there’s a constant stream of people picking up packages or dropping them off. I use that service as well if my order is less than £50.

  5. Martin has it right.

    I rarely go to M&S because I know that they won’t have what I want or if they do, then it’ll be much dearer than Primark or even Sainsburys and Tescos and made in the same sweat shop in Bangladesh.
    The same with Debenhams – they had a specific product that I liked to buy, so when they stopped selling them , I stopped going and they lost all the ancillary purchases that I would have made.

  6. My money would be on the Co-Op hitting severe problems first – if they haven’t already.

    And they appear to make major changes in strategic direction about once a decade anyway.

  7. @Matt

    ‘ . Their clothing and general merchandise clientele are getting older and dying out. ’

    I hadn’t realised the elixir of eternal youth had been discovered.

    M&S provided a clothing range for younger people who one day realised they had got older, and clothes cut for the shape of slender youths no longer fit comfortably, and which if worn by older folk invited the comment, ‘mutton dressed up as lamb’ or ‘medallion-man’ were no longer for them. What did for M&S is they ditched their traditional market and went for the trendy, yoof, market overlooking that brand name is more important to less developed minds than style or quality or value for money, so the likes of NEXT trumped M&S on the label.

    Also why traipse all the way to an M&S when you can browse their range and order on-line?

  8. A trip to town for shopping is increasingly unrewarding. Can’t find what you want and every man’s hand is turned against you. All the high streets are the same except some are shitter than others.

    And why do all the big stores decide to die by going crap? Why don’t they stop doing whatever it was that turned people off and try something better. Unless your lease/rent situation is wrong, in which case quit ASAP.

  9. Ideally M&S would manage the estate based on turnover / gross profit. But the store closures are more likely done to the rhythm of the lease conditions.
    So yeah, circling the plug hole.

  10. “My money would be on the Co-Op hitting severe problems first” – yeah, there is one opposite us, good on pop, sweets and crisps but expensive – dearer than M&S for many things! Some of their “irresistible” range is similar quality to M&S but more expensive. Difficult to understand what they (co-op) are for – too expensive for ordinary folk, far from good enough for people like my wife, service is sloppy – just who do they think is their typical customer?
    Like I said, good on sweets, pop, crips but expensive.

  11. It used to be the case that M&S owned the land upon which their stores sat, outsde of shopping malls. I wonder when this policy changed, or was it one of those accounting wheezes where they sold the property and rented it back.

    I’ve just come back from Sainsbury’s where the poor checkout lady had to put mulitiple tins of cat food through individually. She said that it was to slow down the checkout so that people would see the queue and go to the self servic instead. I really am not convinced that deliberately pissing off customers is a very good policy for supermarkets to follow. Tescos do something similar.

  12. Tesco’s recently pissed off their ‘scan as you shop’ customers by completely fucking up the scan process. It took several seconds to register each scan, even for multiple scans of the same item. It’s better than it was, but it is far and away worse than the similar Sainsbury experience.

    As for M&S, they seem to be contracting but they recently opened a new store in a Stevenage shopping mall that used to be a Debenham’s, I think. Time will tell whether that was a good decision.

  13. Ottokring

    Clothes wise, Tesco and Primark are cheaper than M&S for a good reason – the quality is much lower. I bought t shirts from all 3 stores and the M&S offerings I still have – the others perished long ago.

  14. M&S was once good for underwear, now I find what I need in Lidl. Other clothing from M&S never did fit me, I have more than enough hardly worn City clothes to see me out, nowadays what I need is usually found in MoleValley Farmers or ebay.

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