Marks & Spencer is placing its faith in expanding its bricks and mortar footprint via a near-half a billion pound plan to invest in new and refurbished stores across the country.
The retailer said its investment between now and 2026 will create more than 3,400 jobs, including at 20 stores which will be opened in the next financial year.
Stuart Machin, chief executive of M&S, said: “Stores are a core part of M&S’s omni-channel future and serve as a competitive advantage for how customers want to shop today.”
The new store pipeline for 2023/24 includes eight full-line stores in cities such as Liverpool and Leeds, five of which will be relocated to former Debenhams sites.
In London, two new food halls at the Elizabeth Line station in Canary Wharf and at the new Battersea Power Station development have already opened.
A new store selling the full range of M&S’s clothing, home and food is planned to open in Purley, Croydon, later this year.
The programme of store expansion has been accelerated from M&S’s previous estimates thanks to the speed at which it has recouped its money from recently opened stores, it said. It had initially planned a five year programme, now reduced to three.
Last week, the retailer announced record food sales and its highest clothing and home market share for seven years in its Christmas trading update.
Like-for-like sales in its food halls had risen by 6.3% in the 13 weeks to December 31. Comparable store sales for clothing and home rose 8.6%, giving it a market share of over 10% – its highest level since 2015.