MARKS and Spencer is to close one of its stores on the Wirral as it prepares to axe 14 branches throughout the UK.

The company announced yesterday that Birkenhead along with five other stores will close by the end of April and eight more are proposed for closure with the loss of hundreds of jobs.

The company says that all 92 colleagues who work at the store in the Pyramids Shopping Centre, Birkenhead, have been given jobs at nearby stores.

The closure is part of the company’s programme to modernise its UK store estate after a disappointing Christmas period for sales of food and clothing, favouring stores the ‘right locations’ like the ones at Cheshire Oaks and Liverpool One.

Marks and Spencer says the company remains committed to serving customers throughout Wirral and Merseyside from a number of other locations, including its foodhalls in Bidston, Bromborough and Heswall.

The Chester branch will not be affected by the closures.

M&S Cheshire Oaks, 13 miles away from Birkenhead, will serve as the retailer’s flagship store in the area – selling a wide range of clothing, food and items for the home.

Sacha Berendji, director of retail at Marks & Spencer, said: “We’re committed to transforming M&S for our customers, colleagues and shareholders. Stores will always be an integral part of our customer experience, alongside M&, but we have to ensure we have the right offer in the right locations.

“We believe these changes are vital for the future of M&S and we will continue to accelerate the programme, taking tough but necessary decisions, as we focus on making M&S special.”

Craig Baldock, M&S head of region for Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales, added: “The decision to close our store in Birkenhead town centre was a difficult, but necessary one. We have a great team at the store; all of them are staying with M&S and are committed to offering our customers the very best of M&S in the area.”

Marks and Spencer currently has 1,025 stores in the UK.