Marks & Spencer's closure of 25 "underperforming" Simply Food stores will do little to fix its struggling food business, analysts said this week.

Defiant chairman Sir Stuart Rose claimed he was "encouraged" by this year's 5.2% drop in food like-for-like sales, because they were a slight improvement on last year's 5.9% fall.

But despite the Q3 results beating analysts' predictions, they believe the measures will not "fix M&S' food business overnight". Clive Black at Shore Capital said M&S had to be innovative and exclusive to be successful. "It has become less so over time," he said. "There are structural and operational challenges. Taking out poorly performing sites is right, but I think M&S has a lot to do.

"Simply Food has been cannibalistic. Quite a few openings have overlapped with, and affected sales in, city centre stores."

Greg Lawless of Blue Oar added: "M&S food traditionally does well when general merchandise does well, and GM hasn't been doing well. It has been slow to react with promotions, and they come from a higher price point."

Two other general merchandise M&S stores will also close as part of the cuts, and a 15% cut in head office staff will bring the redundancy total to 1,230.