Marks and Spencer
Marks and Spencer will open 34 new shops over the next six months Dan Kitwood/ Getty Images

Marks & Spencer has unveiled plans to shut six stores across the UK, as part of its chief executive Steve Rowe's plans to remain "in tune" with its customers.

The high-street retailer said on Thursday (20 April) that the closures will affect stores in Warrington, Wokingham, Portsmouth and Slough, as well as Simply Food stores in Worksop and in Monks Cross, near York.

Around 380 staff will be affected by store closures, although M&S was eager to stress that they will all be guaranteed redeployment at stores nearby, while two of the company's larger shops in Crewe and Greenock will be relocated to neighbouring areas.

"This means there will be more M&S colleagues working in an increased number of convenient locations, serving more customers," said Rowe.

"It also means that we will open new stores, some will reduce in size, some will move, some will close and others will convert to food only.

"Each proposal we make will be very carefully considered with our colleagues and customers firmly front of mind. It is our intention that nobody leaves M&S and we will work as hard as possible to ensure that we can deliver against this promise."

Meanwhile, the high-street chain confirmed previously announced plans to open 36 new stores over the next six months, which will create 1,400 jobs. However, 34 of them will only be dedicated to the group food business, with just two out of 36 set to include the group's homewares and clothing ranges.

Of M&S' 950 stores across Britain, 615 only sell food and the decision to focus more on the latter mirrored a shift in customers' demand, Rowe explained.

"M&S stores will always be an integral part of our customer offer, working seamlessly alongside our website, M&, to deliver great products and service to our customers," said Rowe.

"However, our customers' shopping habits are changing. Picking up food for now or tonight rather than doing one big shop or browsing and shopping online and collecting in store are great examples of this and we are committed to adapting our business so that we stay in tune with our customers."

In November, Rowe said the group would close 30 stores and convert 45 of them into food only stores and it would also shut 53 of its international stores, including stores in Paris and China.