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Marks & Spencer to close 27 stores

LONDON, January 7 – British retailer Marks & Spencer said on Wednesday it would close 27 stores and eliminate as many as 1,230 jobs.

The disclosure added further gloom to the British retail sector as it struggles with the economic downturn. The company also said in a statement that its 2008 year-end sales had fallen by 7.1 percent, and that it was taking steps to cut costs.

Marks & Spencer, a long-established landmark on many high streets, announced early in November that net profit sank 43 percent in the first half of the year as it faced tough trading.

The store closures will target the company\’s "Simply Food" outlets specialising exclusively in food products, a move that will mean the loss of 780 jobs.

In addition Marks & Spencer said it planned to eliminate as many as 450 posts in administrative services and would reduce retirement benefits.

The measures are expected to save 175-200 million pounds (193-220 euros, 261-298 dollars) in the company\’s next fiscal year, which begins April 1.

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