UK retailer Marks and Spencer is to close four stores in the Republic of Ireland, resulting in 180 job losses.

The move comes as a result of a strategic store review, the retail group said. The stores are located in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, Tallaght and Dun Laoghaire in Dublin, and Naas in Co. Kildare.

The stores will close in the coming weeks, M&S said, resulting in 180 redundancies.

Jonathan Glenister, head of M&S Ireland, said the last few years have been "very challenging" and the business has been under continuous review.

"We have made savings and found efficiencies wherever possible," he added. "However, the retail sector outlook has not improved and we have to act now to protect the long term good of the company."

The retailer is hoping a new flagship store in Limerick will prove a success. Proposed to open in 2016, around 250 jobs are expected to be created from the opening. Over the next year the remaining M&S store portfolio will be invested in, including a repositioning of the Grafton Street store as an M&S regional centre.

"M&S remains fully committed to its Irish business," Glenister said. "Our first duty is to our affected store teams and we have spoken to them directly today. We will now do all that we can to help them through the coming weeks and support them with their future employment needs."