Page last updated at 13:37 GMT, Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Marks and Spencer cuts 1,000 jobs

M&S customers at the last one-day sale
M&S had two 20% off days in the run-up to Christmas

Retailer Marks and Spencer will announce on Wednesday it is to cut more than 1,000 jobs, the BBC has confirmed.

The announcement will accompany its trading update for the Christmas period, which will be released to the stock exchange at 0700 GMT.

Marks and Spencer is the largest fashion retailer in the UK, employing about 70,000 staff.

The job reductions represent less than 2% of the work force, but will still be seen as a sign of High Street weakness.

The jobs will be cut across stores, head office and support functions, according to the Times newspaper.

Marks and Spencer has declined to comment officially, but BBC business editor Robert Peston says details of the job cuts will be disclosed on Wednesday.

Robert Peston's reaction

M&S took the decision to have two days of 20% discounts in the run-up to Christmas and the trading update should give an idea of what effect that had.

There have already been signs of falling sales on the High Street, following trading statements from Debenhams and Next.

Clothing retailer Next announced that its sales had dropped 7% in the six months to Christmas Eve, while Debenhams said its sales in the past 12 weeks had fallen 3.3%.

But both sets of figures were better than had been feared and their shares have risen sharply in London.

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