M&S 'plans to cut flagship sizes', raise funds from repurposing space
M&S is reportedly planning to downsize the space it controls in around 20 of its largest retail locations with under-used upper floors potentially being converted into offices or even residential space.
The company has one of the most extensive store estates in the UK and any moves to make more profitable use of space in its flagships would be a big step for the firm. However it wouldn't be unexpected as a number of UK retailers have been taking action to address under-used space issues. This has included chains such as Tesco and Sainsbury's shedding some of their properties, as well as inviting other retailers to take space in their giant stores. Next has also done something similar to ensure space is well used and that shoppers have more choice and more of a reason to visit physical shops.
But it seems that M&S will be taking an alternate route with This Is Money reporting that around 20 stores in expensive city centre locations will have space on the upper floors, rather than in the selling area, repurposed. The report said this could possibly raise hundreds of millions of pounds.
Some of those properties cover four or five storeys, although the usual M&S retail activity is expected to continue on the lower floors.
The plan is reported to be in its early stages and hasn't been confirmed by the company, nor have the locations that it might be targeting been announced. However, the report said that the seven-floor Marble Arch flagship could be one of the shops being looked at. As well as being the company’s overall retail, flagship it also has a press showroom and other space for staff training. It's the company’s biggest shop and has 160,000 sq ft of selling space.
At an investors meeting last month, CEO Steve Rowe said of the firm’s store estate: “We are still evaluating all the opportunities. But what we do know is there are about 20 substantial opportunities within the portfolio for potential development in the future.”
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