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M&S shares have fallen 26 percent over the a year ago and it risks being booted out of the FTSE 100 index as it is now worth less than both online grocer Ocado and online fashion website ASOS, starkly illustrating how shopping habits have changed in only a decade.

Elsewhere, outlets in Bayswater, Fleetwood, Newton Abbot, Darlington, East Kilbride, Falkirk, Kettering, Newmarket, New Mersey Speke, Northampton, Stockton, Walsall and two in London have all entered into a period of consultation with all 626 affected employees.

A number of household names, including BHS, Maplin, Toys R Us and House Fraser have either gone into administration or been forced to close stores in a bid to boost profits and battle the rise of online shopping. The company has just over 1,000 United Kingdom stores.

M&S store closures are always big news, especially for the towns where the shops have been reassuring fixtures on the high street for decades. Operationally, M&S said it will reposition the Food business in the year ahead to become more "relevant".

Many experts believe that closing a large swathe of stores is a tough but necessary step.

M&S admitted its clothing and home division was failing to attract younger customers and families.

Those changes included scaling back ambitions for its Simply Food chain.

The food, clothing and homewares retailer maintained its full-year dividend at 18.7p.

"Until recently the food business was the bright spark which kept hopes for growth from M&S alive, but now that seems to have dimmed too", said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. "Having a huge store estate is no longer the powerful retail force that it once was".

M&S lost more ground in its fourth quarter, with like-for-like clothing and home sales down 3.4 percent, worse than the previous quarter's 2.8 percent drop, and same store food sales down 0.6 percent, against a third quarter fall of 0.4 percent.

Investors will be looking for evidence of improvement in the company's annual results on Wednesday.

Its full year results for the year ended March 31st, 2018, group revenue was up marginally to £10.7 billion, but profit after tax fell 74.8 per cent to £29.1 million from £115.7million.

Maureen Hinton, from analytics firm GlobalData, said M&S was "perilously close" to losing its top spot in the United Kingdom clothing market to Primark.

The company says the closures are vital to secure its future.


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