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Northern Ireland unscathed by M&S closure programme as Tesco also shuts non-food website

Marks & Spencer is to close 100 stores by 2022 as it accelerates a transformation programme

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NORTHERN Ireland has remained unscathed after a decision by Marks & Spencer is to close more than 100 of its stores by 2022 as it accelerates a transformation programme that will see thousands of jobs put at risk.

The closures will affect its under-performing clothing and home stores, of which 14 in Britain have been earmarked for immediate closure.

The move is part of a five-year turnaround plan spearheaded by chairman Archie Norman and chief executive Steve Rowe.

They have been seeking to save costs through store closures and shutting distribution centres as part of a wide-ranging efficiency drive as the company's financial performance deteriorates and it feels the pinch from online shopping.

Sacha Berendji, retail and property director at M&S, said: "We are making good progress with our plans to reshape our store estate to be more relevant to our customers and support our online growth plans.

"Closing stores isn't easy but it is vital for the future of M&S. Where we have closed stores, we are seeing an encouraging number of customers moving to nearby stores and enjoying shopping with us in a better environment, which is why we're continuing to transform our estate with pace."

The announcement comes a day before the retailer is expected to unveil another troubling set of annual figures, which are likely to show that underlying pre-tax profit across the group fell 6 per cent to £573 million.

It came as supermarket giant Tesco put 500 jobs at risk after announcing plans to shut down its non-food website Tesco Direct following a detailed review into the business.

Tesco said it "concluded that, despite its best efforts, there is no route to profitability for this small, loss-making part of the business".

Tesco Direct - which sells a range of general merchandise, including homeware, tech, toys and clothing for collection or delivery - will cease trading on July 9, putting 500 staff at risk of redundancy.

Charles Wilson, Tesco's chief executive for the UK & Ireland, said: "We want to offer our customers the ability to buy groceries and non-food products in one place and that's why we are focusing our investment into one online platform.

"This decision has been a very difficult one to make, but it is an essential step towards establishing a more sustainable non-food offer and growing our business for the future."

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