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Marks & Spencer lays out changes as clothing departments prepare to reopen

Lauretta Roberts
01 June 2020

Marks & Spencer has said it will reopen the majority of its clothing departments on 15 June as it laid out a series of changes to operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The high street giant has continued operations at its food stores and online through the COVID-19 outbreak but closed most of its clothing operations in March.

It said its 260 stores which typically sell food and clothing have been focused on grocery sales for the past three months.

However, clothing departments will reopen fully at the majority of these sites on 15 June after the Government gave the go-ahead for non-essential retail, which includes fashion, to restart.

M&S said it will install a raft of health and safety measures, some of which are already in place at food-hall stores, when clothing areas welcome customers again.

It said it will have colleagues who “manage the flow” of customers in and out of all stores to maintain social distancing, while hand sanitiser will also be available to new customers.

It added that shop safety signage and floor markers will be placed around stores, while Perspex screens will be fitted at tills to protect staff.

Clothing fittings and other “close-contact services” will be temporarily closed, it said, while fitting rooms will also be shut to customers for the time being.

Andrew Walmsley, M&S’s retail operations director said: “I’ve never been prouder to be part of the M&S team than over these past few months.

“Our store teams have been brilliant at implementing the necessary social distancing and hygiene measures to help customers shop our food, and we’ll be bringing those lessons and insights over to clothing and home.

“Preparation is now well under way for the 15th, from the installation of perspex screens at tills, to putting in new signage.

“Whilst shopping may feel different, there will still be the same great service and expert advice customers expect of M&S, as well as more digital solutions to supplement the in-store experience, such as our enhanced online bra fit tool.”

The company has also reopened dozens of its cafes for takeaway customers, with plans to open more in the coming weeks.

This morning value fashion giant Primark said it too would be opening all of its UK stores on 15 June. Fellow department store chain John Lewis will begin a phased approach to opening stores from 15 June, as will Next, Joules and Ted Baker among others. Frasers Group has said Sports Direct, Flannels and Jack Wills will open on 15 with House of Fraser opening later in the week.

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