Bedford mayor Dave Hogdson insists M&S bosses should think again about proposals to close Bedford’s town centre store following an announcement earlier today.
He told the T&C: “It’s terrible news that despite the way Bedford has bucked the trend for town centres, this store and its employees are caught up in the M&S national closure programme.
“It will be extremely worrying for staff, and it’s vital that the consultation with them is genuine.
“In the meantime, I’ll be stressing to M&S that it should think again and remove the Bedford town centre store from the list of closures across the country.”
The Business Improvement District, BedfordBID, which represents 500 town centre shops, office and restaurants under the Love Bedford brand added:
“We are liaising with the council and M&S locally to get a clearer picture.
“We understand that this is just a consultation at the moment so we encourage people to keep visiting the store to show how much we love M&S.”
Councillor Stephen Moon said: “Marks & Spencer’s decision to close its Bedford store is hugely disappointing and will obviously be distressing for the staff affected. It is particularly surprising given that the store worked well with Bedford BID over the Christmas period and reported strong sales.
“This decision underlines the difficulties facing the town centre environment given the increase in the proportion of online retail sales and the continuing growth in out of town retail centres.
“The council urgently needs to take a lead on this and work with Marks & Spencer to see if the store can be saved.
“It is also overdue in developing a coherent set of policies to provide a vision for our town centre which would make it easier to resist the continuing movement of shopping to out of town locations.”
M&S announced it is consulting with 68 staff emplopyed at the Bedford store on the proposed closure.
The proposed closure is part of M&S’s programme to ‘reshape its UK store estate’ with the planned closure of 17 stores. Some stores have already closed.
M&S Calum Telford, M&S Head of Region for East Anglia, said: “Proposing to close our Bedford store has been a difficult decision.
“Over the coming weeks we will be consulting with colleagues on an individual basis and discuss what is best for them.
“If the proposal goes ahead we will continue to serve the community at our Bedford Interchange Foodhall and our Clothing & Home store, M&S Rushden Lakes, both of which offer the option to shop via Click & Collect.”
Nearby stores to M&S Bedford include:
> M&S Bedford Interchange Foodhall (2.3 miles, 8 mins away)
> M&S Rushden Lakes (13.8 miles, 24 mins away) >
> M&S St Neots Foodhall (14.1 miles, 23 mins away) All of these stores offer a free next-day Click & Collect service for customers who purchase online at M&S.com Read more at: https://www.bedfordtoday.co.uk/news/m-s-announces-proposed-closure-of-bedford-town-centre-store-1-8769924