Marks & Spencer is set to create 3,400 jobs by opening ‘bigger and better’ stores across the UK.
The retailer plans to accelerate a five-year store rotation programme with a £480m investment, allowing it to open more sites within a new three-year timeframe.
It has earmarked 20 new stores to open in the next financial year, including former Debenhams sites in Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester and Thurrock, Essex, and new food halls in locations including Stockport, Barnsley and Largs, North Ayrshire.
M&S has shifted its focus from “ageing” town centre stores, relocating many of them to newer, larger sites, often in out-of-town retail parks or shopping centres. For example, the relocation of its Chesterfield store in November saw the creation of 100 new jobs and resulted in a 103% uplift in December sales compared with the previous year.
M&S chief executive Stuart Machin 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. Our store rotation programme is about making sure we have the right stores, in the right place, with the right space and we’re aiming to rotate from the 247 stores we have today to 180 higher quality, higher productivity full-line stores that sell our full clothing, home and food offer whilst also opening over 100 bigger, better food sites.
“The outperformance of our recently relocated and renewed stores, give us the confidence to go faster in our plan. Our investment in stores not only delivers a better experience for customers and colleagues, it boosts local communities with new job creation and will help us deliver a more sustainable estate in every sense.”
This month M&S has launched a flexible working programme for retail managers, allowing them to choose to work a four-day week, a nine-day fortnight or a combination of the two. A trial last year saw improvements in employee engagement work-life balance.