M&S says it must accelerate change or fade away

M&S store closure costs result in 62% annual profit plunge

In addition to the accelerated store overhaul, M&S is improving its website and investing to increase its e-commerce capacity.

The latest tranche of closures will affect 626 M&S employees.

The move, which has been touted as part of a "radical transformation" plan by the retailer after years of falling sales, represents a "dramatic retreat from the United Kingdom high street that will trigger thousands of job losses" says The Guardian.

United Kingdom costs were up 1.8% in the period due to costs relating to new space, inflation and channel shift.

M&S store closures are always big news, especially for the towns where the shops have been reassuring fixtures on the high street for decades.

In support of these changes, M&S expects capital expenditure of £350-400mln in 2019 but sees United Kingdom costs falling by up to 1% due to cost efficiencies and lower depreciation.

The overall aim is to create fewer, better clothing and home stores, supported by a seamless online experience across all digital channels including mobile and social, and by a conveniently located network of food stores that offer customers a next-day collect in store service for clothing and home purchases.

Those changes included scaling back ambitions for its Simply Food chain.

King Soopers parent Kroger partners with world's largest online grocery supermarket
It will now discontinue discussions with other US-based retailers. "The opportunity for a business like Kroger is huge", he said. Ocado added that, in the event of a failure to commit to the target capacity, Kroger will pay compensation to Ocado .

"Until recently the food business was the bright spark which kept hopes for growth from M&S alive, but now that seems to have dimmed too", said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

The retailer is trying to spur growth after disappointing trading over the Christmas period.

Group revenue, however, rose 0.7 per cent rise year-on-year from £10.62 billion to £10.69 billion and total sales in its food division were up 3.9 per cent.

Investors will be looking for evidence of improvement in the company's annual results on Wednesday. Worldwide sales fell 7.9 percent to 1,087.2 million pounds during the year while global profit before adjusting items more than doubled to 135.2 million pounds.

The shares were up 2.02pc at 297.7p mid-morning. They had been worth nearly 400p a year ago.

This will see it come perilously close to losing its crown as Britain's largest clothing retailer to Primark.

GlobalData has forecast that its clothing market share will be 7.6% this year - nearly halving in two decades - despite opening more stores selling clothing, homewares and food under the one roof.

"Closing stores isn't easy but it is vital for the future of [Marks & Spencer]".

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