THE boss of Marks & Spencer has said it could go further than its 100 planned store closures as it looks towards a “constant churn” of locations.

M&S closed its branch in Commercial Road, Bournemouth, in April, after 88 years of trading.

It subsequently announced a list of 100 stores which were to be axed, with no further Dorset branches on the list.

Announcing a decline in half-year revenue but improved profits yesterday, the retailer warned that it was expecting “little improvement in sales trajectory”.

Chief executive Steve Rowe said: “We should have been doing what retailers do all the time.

“We need a constant churn to ensure we’ve got the right stores in the right places for our customers. I’m not going to stop at 100 and say job done.”

Half-year revenue at M&S dropped by 3.1 per cent to £4.96billion, reflecting declining sales in both food and the clothing and home divisions.

M&S said it was in the “difficult early stages of transformation”.

Jeff Bray, principal academic in marketing and consumer at Bournemouth University, said: “It’s quite shocking how clothing has declined every year on the previous year. It’s really a huge decline, not just in the short term – this is a long-term decline.”

But he was sceptical about the company’s ability to “churn” stores.

“It definitely needs something quite radical but any flexibility is hindered by the landlords in any situation. They can’t just get out of stores, because they might have a 20-year lease on them,” he added.

He said M&S could be “rather forced into closing those stores whose lease expires rather than those that are the least successful”.

He suggested M&S should consider acquiring a brand that had more credibility with younger shoppers.

“The customers that did love them still love them, but that customer group is getting older and getting less numerous as a time goes on,” he said.

“The effort they make to make their range more fashionable simply has the effect of making my grandmother more fashionable,” he added.

“Fashion is all about branding and image and M&S has the wrong image for a younger consumer.”

Clothing and home revenue fell by 2.7 per cent amid the strategy to close underperforming stores and reduce the amount of space devoted to non-food items. Like-for-like sales were down 1.1 per cent.

Food revenue dipped by 0.2 per cent overall, but like-for-like sales were down 2.9 per cent because of fewer promotions and the timing of Easter.

Underlying pre-tax profits rose two per cent to £223.5m, which M&S said was due to the phasing of costs.