Marks & Spencer to open 20 department stores, creating 3,400 jobs |  Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer to open 20 department stores, creating 3,400 jobs | Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer to open 20 department stores, creating 3,400 jobs |  Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer will open 20 department stores and create 3,400 jobs as part of a £500million plan to rejuvenate its high street presence after bumper Christmas trading.

The retail chain – which announced in October that it would close 67 of its “low productivity” locations that sold clothing and homewares, around a quarter of its department store fleet – said it planned to open the 20 new ‘biggest and best’ stores in locations across the UK in the next financial year.

The company intends to open eight ‘full line’ stores, offering clothing, homewares and food, in shopping centers such as the Bullring in Birmingham and the Trafford Center in Manchester, as well as in parks malls and shopping streets.

A number of stores will take over former sites occupied by the collapsed department store chain Debenhams.

As part of the £480million investment plan, M&S is to open 12 new food halls in communities including Stockport, Barnsley and the seaside town of Largs in North Ayrshire, Scotland.

Stuart Machin, managing director of M&S, said a meaningful high street presence was crucial to giving consumers the broadest shopping experience. The company is also expanding its Click & Collect offer to 130 stores, while its online sales jumped over Christmas.

“Stores are central to M&S’ omnichannel future and a competitive advantage for how customers want to shop today,” Machin said. “Our store rotation program is about making sure we have the right stores, in the right place, in the right place.”

Overall, M&S said that under its five-year plan its 247 store base would grow to 180 “full range” locations and it would open more than 100 food locations. By its 2025/26 financial year, it aims to run 420 grocery stores across the UK.

The company also said it intends to expand its franchise model by expanding its range of convenience stores beyond existing partners including BP, Moto, SSP and Costa.

Last week, M&S announced it had taken its biggest share of the clothing and home goods market in seven years and the biggest share of the food market ever at Christmas.

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