Marks & Spencer to open 20 large shops, creating 3,400 jobs | Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer is to open 20 large stores and create 3,400 jobs as part of a £500m plan to rejuvenate its presence on the high street after bumper Christmas trading.

The retail chain – which in October said it would close 67 of its “lower productivity” sites that sold clothes and homewares, about a quarter of its estate of bigger stores – said it planned to open the 20 new “bigger, better” 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 centres such as the Bullring in Birmingham and Manchester’s Trafford Centre as well as retail parks and high streets.

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

Under the £480m 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, the chief executive of M&S, said a significant presence on the high street was crucial in offering consumers the widest shopping experience. The company is also expanding its Click & Collect offering to 130 stores, while its online sales surged over Christmas.

“Stores are a core part of M&S’s omnichannel future and serve as a competitive advantage for how customers want to shop today,” Machin said. “Our store rotation programme is about making sure we have the right stores, in the right place, with the right place.”

Overall, M&S said that under its five-year plan its estate of 247 stores would transition to 180 “full-line” sites and it would open more than 100 food sites. By its 2025/26 financial year it aims to run 420 food stores across the UK.

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

Last week, M&S announced that it took its biggest share of the clothing and homewares market in seven years and the largest slice of the food market ever over Christmas.

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