Marks and Spencer to close over 100 United Kingdom stores by 2022

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Profit before tax at Marks and Spencer (M&S) plummeted 62.1 per cent to £66.8 million last year from £176.4 million the year before, the company's full year results show.

Shares in M&S have fallen 26% over the past year and the firm is in danger of being booted out of the FTSE 100 index. The company operates 942 stores, including 253 owned and 383 franchise Simply Food stores; and 343 full-line stores and 41 outlet stores in the United Kingdom.

"There are a number of structural issues to address and we are taking steps towards fixing these", added Rowe.

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The blue-chip retailer's revenue inched 0.7 percent higher to £10.7 billion, and the company maintained its payout to shareholders at 18.7p per share.

Adjusted pretax profit still fell 5.4% to GBP580.9 million, hit by a decrease in its Food gross margin, which fell "more than expected" by 140 basis points during the year.

The retailer, which had a total of 1,035 stores at the end of its 2017/2018 financial year, will publish its annual results on Wednesday.

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The company further updated investors on its transformation programme today, with chief executive Steve Rowe saying that the first phase of the plan, dubbed "restoring the basics, ' was 'well underway".

M&S said that although online sales are growing, its online capability is "behind the best of our competitors and our website is too slow".

"And we're concentrating on tackling the culture of the business, making M&S a faster, lower cost and more commercial digital business". M&S highlighted the continued migration of shopping for clothing and home online, together with the development of global competition and discounters as threats to its business and market position, which led to the decision to accelerate its transformation plan to modernise its business.

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"Our fulfilment centre at Castle Donington has struggled to cope with peak demand and some of our systems are dated", it said. Comparable food sales were down 0.3 per cent. Closing stores isn't easy but it is vital for the future of M&S. M&S has managed to reduce costs by at least 350 million pounds and created a platform for growth.

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