Marks & Spencer is expected to axe dozens of high streets stores as part of a radical shake-up of its business.
The chain’s new boss Steve Rowe, who took over M&S earlier this year, will announce a new strategy for the business next week which will include reallocating space in some stores from clothing to food and closing others outright.
Sources told Sky News on Friday that the closures, which will take place over several years, would feature a “significant” number of stores, while other branches will see space reallocated from clothing to its more successful food operations.
The M&S brand has suffered in recent years and the move is part of a strategy to convince investors that Mr Rowe is the right man to turn the company around.
Since taking over from previous boss Marc Bolland in April, Rowe has proposed axing more than 500 head office jobs in an attempt to exert a tighter grip on its cost-base.
In July, Mr Rowe announced the sharpest like-for-like decline in M&S’s clothing business for more than a decade, with sales down nearly 9% in the 13 weeks to 2 July.
“These are not the numbers I wanted to see – not by any stretch,” Mr Rowe said at the time.
Shares in M&S have fallen by about one-third in the last year, giving the company a market value of just over £5.5bn.
A spokeswoman for M&S declined to comment.