Which high street stores are at risk as Clark’s gears up for ‘rapid exit’ from worst-performing sites?

The Clarks store at Westgate Street, Ipswich. It's unclear which high street stores might be at risk

The Clarks store at Westgate Street, Ipswich. It's unclear which high street stores might be at risk after a review Picture: GOOGLEMAPS - Credit: Archant

A high street shoe chain stalwart is set to pull out of some of its worst-performing sites as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

Shoe retailer Clarks has become the latest brand to shake up its high street presence, after the group called in advisers to review its property portfolio.

Clarks said it was "preparing to take rapid actions to exit the worst-performing sites in as short a timescale as possible" as it launched its full-year results.

MORE - Then and now: 10 years of change on Ipswich high street (Part 3)It is not yet clear how many sites may be affected nor how many jobs.

Clarks does have a number of stores in Suffolk and Essex, including in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury, Felixstowe, Colchester, Newmarket and Clacton-on-Sea.

Clarks has seen its turnover fall from £1.53bn to £1.46bn, and has also been hit by a devaluation of its properties - down £50m across the UK and the US.

As a result, it has reportedly brought in McKinsey & Co to undertake a "fundamental and comprehensive review of its property portfolio".

A Clarks spokeswoman said: "In March 2019, Clarks appointed Giorgio Presca as chief executive officer to lead the work to transform the Clarks brand. The last few years have been challenging, but despite that Clarks is on track to grow underlying profitability this year.

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"At this stage, we are unable to share any specific details of this strategy, however, we can confirm that we are transforming the brand to reconnect with our consumers by designing iconic new products and launching an exciting new brand and marketing strategy that is already engaging consumers across the world.

"Clarks is one of the few brands in the world with authenticity, a place in fashion history and a cult followership that sets us apart from other brands. Our new strategy will allow the business to capitalise on the momentum that our Clarks Originals products such as the Desert Boot and Wallabee are experiencing, and to meet our ambition of returning the business to sustainable levels of growth and profitability by 2023."

A number of high street chains have pursued cost-cutting initiatives through company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) in recent years, including the likes of Jamie Oliver's restaurants and Carpetright.

According to the Centre for Retail Research, major UK chains have closed almost 6,000 stores so far this year.

It found 708 stores were closed after going into administration, and 4793 were shut down as part of cost-cutting programmes.