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Marks & Spencer depot closures put nearly 700 jobs at risk | Business

Marks & Spencer is closing two of its clothing distribution centres in a move that puts almost 700 jobs at risk.

The struggling retailer is revamping its warehouse network to save money and improve stock availability, which is a long-running problem in its high street stores.

On Thursday, M&S said the sites in Long Eaton in Derbyshire and Thorncliffe in Sheffield would close next year. Long Eaton is run by the logistics firm DHL, while Thorncliffe is managed by rival operator XPO. Together they employ 662 staff.

Ed Leach, an area organiser at the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, described the decision as devastating for staff. “Usdaw will now enter into meaningful consultations … where we will interrogate the business case and secure the best possible outcome for all affected,” he said.

M&S has been trying to reinvent itself for nearly two decades but with little success. Its chief executive, Steve Rowe, and chairman, Archie Norman, promise it will be different this time.

The retailer, which has lost its place in the prestigious FTSE 100, is redesigning its fashion and food ranges to broaden its appeal and attract young families.

Last year it told investors its logistics network was holding it back because it was “complex and high cost” and too slow at replenishing stores.

The depot closures – it has previously shut four including Hardwick, near Warrington and Neasden in west London – means that from 2021 M&S’s clothing business will operate out of six warehouses serving the whole country.

“We’re in the early stages of changing our supply chain to address flow of product and availability for our customers. As part of this we will no longer be serving our stores from our Thorncliffe and Long Eaton distribution centres,” M&S said.

“Moving the operations is not a decision we have taken lightly but it is an important change to help us best serve our customers as we move to a nationally connected network. Our logistics partners will be working closely with the colleagues at the sites on what is best for them.”

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