Marks and Spencer set to close 40 more stores

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M&S wants to move a third of its sales online and plans to have fewer, larger clothing and homeware stores in better locations.

Marks & Spencer has been condemned to a second straight year of falling profits after the high street giant racked up a huge bill for store closures, as it prepares to shut 100 shops over the next four years and faces relegation from the blue chip FTSE 100 index.

M&S said it made a pretax profit before one-off items of 580.9 million pounds ($778.6 million) in the year to March 31, particularly hurt by a decrease in the food gross margin.

Revenue at M&S's food business rose 3.9% to £5.87bn as the company opened more stores but sales at established outlets fell 0.3%.

Pre-tax profit meanwhile dived more than 62 per cent to 67 million pound, while total sales firmed 0.7 per cent to 10.7 billion pound. Global sales fell 7.9 percent to 1,087.2 million pounds during the year while worldwide profit before adjusting items more than doubled to 135.2 million pounds. 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. "Accelerated change is the only option".

Profits before tax dropped from £176.4m to £66.8m during the year, and the cost of the store closure programme - which will see more than 100 stores close by 2022 - was reported to be £321m, which M&S said remains in line with its plan.

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Currently, around 18 percent of M&S' clothing and home sales are made online.

"For investors a dividend yield of over 6% is an attractive stopgap, but at the moment Steve Rowe's promise to make M&S special again requires a leap of faith", said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Rowe said it was targeting sustainable, profitable growth in three to five years time.

"M&S is simply struggling to make progress in a world where a compelling mobile app is every bit as important as a presence on the high street, and considerably less expensive".

When all is said and done, the Marks & Spencer closures will affect more than 1,500.

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