Marks and Spencer is set to close 30 stores after disappointing grocery sales left it with a £201 million loss.
While many competitors were able to meet the online grocery demand early on in the Covid-19 pandemic, Marks and Spencer food sales were up just 1.3 per cent from March 2020.
Its Deliveroo partnership last year failed to bear fruit, and deliveries with Ocado only began after a £750 million deal in September.
The supermarket now plans to grow its online orders by around 50 per cent, claiming it sells more through Ocado than Waitrose used to.
A shift to online retail is meant to make up for some of the lost sales from the 30 stores scheduled for closure.
The locations of those stores have not yet been revealed.
Marks and Spencer’s “substantial loss of trade” has been “partly compensated” by the £174.6 million it received in business rates relief from the government.
It has refused to follow the lead of the Big 4 grocers, which have returned billions in taxpayer funds.
“In a year like no other we have delivered a resilient trading performance, thanks in no small part to the extraordinary efforts of our colleagues,” Marks and Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe said.
“With the right team in place to accelerate change in the trading businesses and build a trajectory for future growth, we now have a clear line of sight on the path to make Marks and Spencer special again.”
The news comes after a reshuffle of the supermarket’s top team, with food managing director Stuart Machin and strategy director Katie Bickerstaffe stepping into a joint chief operating officer role.
Chief financial officer Eoin Tonge will take on Bickerstaffe’s strategy responsibilities.