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    INTERNATIONAL NEWS: M & S to Close 25 Stores

    The closings will result in a loss of up to 780 jobs.

    LONDON -- Marks and Spencer will close 25 of its Simply Food convenience stores after reporting a drop in sales for the third quarter of 2008, according to a report by UK-based The Grocer.

    The company's management statement released today stated the retailer reported total same-store sales were down 7.1 percent for the quarter, and food sales were down by 5.2 percent, the report stated. As a result, the decision has been made to close the stores with a loss of up to 780 jobs.

    "We have reviewed our store portfolio and, subject to consultation with staff, are proposing to close 27 stores. Of the total, 25 are small, under-performing Simply Food stores and two are small main chain stores," said Marks and Spencer Chairman Sir Stuart Rose.

    In a further attempt to reduce its operating costs by between £175 million - £200 million over the next two years, the group will also be letting go of 450 staff members from its head offices bringing the total job losses to more than 1,200, according to the report.

    "We are aware that the proposed changes set out above will be difficult for those members of staff impacted, but given that we expect challenging economic conditions to continue for at least the next 12 months we believe we are taking the right action to maintain the strength of our business," added Rose.

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