Scottish chain M&Co closes 170 UK stores: Industry reaction from retail expert


IT HAS been announced that Scottish clothing retailer M&Co plans to close all 170 of its UK locations, putting as many as 2,000 jobs at risk. This is after being purchased in a financially undisclosed deal that does not include any of its physical stores.

The company, which is currently offering up to 50% off all items through its website, initially collapsed into administration last year, and in the past week announced that it has been purchased by Peterborough-based AK Retail Holdings. This company also owns Yours Clothing, Long Tall Sally, BadRhino and Bump It Up. 

In a statement posted to its social media channels, spokespeople for M&Co revealed that stores will continue to trade until Easter, before beginning the close down process. However, no new gift cards will be sold, and loyalty cards and vouchers will not be accepted with the scheme now closed to further sign-ups. 

Commenting on the announcement, Nick Drewe, a retail expert at online discounts platform Wethrift, said: 

“The news of M&Co shutting down all 170+ of its physical stores is, unfortunately, another example of the many retailers falling victim to the UK cost of living crisis and ongoing economic uncertainty.

“It is no secret that households up and down the UK are continuing to grapple with hikes in energy bills, increased interest rates and mortgage / rent payments. This, combined with the rising cost of food essentials, is causing consumers to look to cut costs when it comes to non-essential purchases, including new clothing items. 

“As a brand known for setting prices higher than many of its high-street competitors, the lack of financial success leading to this news could be down – in part – to the cost of living crisis, making it harder to advertise the quality of products to target consumers, widely considered as women aged 40+  and their families. 

“With a large proportion of shoppers across all age demographics investing more time into shopping for the lowest priced deals, a less visible brand like M&Co was destined to succumb to this outcome, without a huge shift in how it set itself apart from the crowd. 

“One could also put forward the argument that part of M&Co’s demise is linked to a lacklustre marketing strategy, which has failed to tap into engaging with its target audiences during such a crucial time. The retailer boasts just 45,000 followers on social platform Instagram, for example, with some posts receiving as few as 15 likes. 

“M&Co, like many other high street clothing retailers with a physical presence – like Zara and H&M – had also started to put the sustainability of its products at the forefront of its brand messaging. 

“For example, its website continues to highlight that ‘more than half’ of products are sourced more sustainably. Unfortunately, this rather ambiguous statement, along with any longer term plans for reducing its impact on the environment, did not manage to help save the brands high street placements.” 

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