Wigan's M&S shop is safe ... for now

The Wigan store is not earmarked for closure
The Wigan store is not earmarked for closure

Wigan’s Marks & Spencer store has escaped the axe - for now - as the firm announces plans to close more than 100 branches by 2022.

The high street giant has announced the next tranche of UK stores proposed for closure as it accelerates a transformation programme that will see thousands of jobs put at risk.

They have named 14 stores earmarked for closure, with a total of 872 employees affected.

Its shop on Standishgate, in Wigan town centre, was not among those set to shut.

That comes after a spokesman for the firm recently denied rumours circulating in the town that the shop was going to close and be replaced with a food shop at Robin Retail Park.

Leigh’s M&S Foodhall was also not on the list of proposed closures.

As well as the latest 14 stores named for closure, the firm said 21 had already shut.

However, the locations of the rest of the 100-plus shops under threat have not yet been revealed.

The latest closures will affect its clothing and home stores, which have under-performed for several years, and include the Fleetwood outlet.

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.

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 before the retailer is expected to unveil another troubling set of annual figures.

Today’s results are set to show that underlying pre-tax profit across the group fell by six per cent to £573m.