Marks and Spencer in Andover could be set to close.
The high street retailer announced today (31st January 2018) it is planning to close 14 stores and cut hundreds of jobs.
Six stores will definitely close by April and the closure of a further eight stores – which includes Andover – has been proposed.
In a joint statement local MP, Kit Malthouse and Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Phil North said:
“We are deeply disappointed that Marks & Spencer are considering the closure of their store in Andover, which is valued by many local residents. This is a particularly puzzling decision considering the growing population of Andover and the previous success of the store.
“We call on Marks & Spencer to reconsider their decision – and are organising an urgent meeting with their representatives to understand the reasons for closure and to ask them to retain a presence in Andover town centre. We have also written to their Chairman, Archie Norman.
“Moreover, we are trying to make contact with the landlord, Diamond Property Holdings Ltd, to see if any deal can be brokered.”
It’s understood that the plans will affect 468 staff. Birkenhead, Bournemouth and Durham are earmarked for closure in April. Staff from these stores have been offered jobs in nearby locations.
Other stores due to close in April are Fforestfach in Swansea, Putney and Redditch.
Two weeks ago M&S announced a “disappointing Christmas period”, when both food and clothing sales dropped. M&S said like-for-like revenues fell 1.4% in the 13 weeks to 30 December. By contrast, Tesco’s UK sales rose 2.3% in the 19 weeks to 6 January.
Sacha Berendji, M&S Retail Operations Director says, “Stores will always be an integral part of our customer experience, alongside M&S.com, but we have to ensure we have the right offer in the right locations.”
The eight stores earmarked for closure are: Andover, Basildon, Bridlington, Denton outlet store, Falmouth, Fareham, Keighley and Stockport.
Love Andover understands that there will be a period of consultation before a final decision is made on the upper High Street store.
Lisa Armstrong, chair of the proposed Andover Business Improvement District (BID) says, “We hope that with the growing population of our town in the coming years and efforts in place, like the BID to improve Andover’s customer experience that M&S might consider alternatives to closing the store.
“We feel that amending the offer to a ‘Simply Food’ hall could prove beneficial to the store. Andover BID are working with local retailers to provide a better experience for business owners and customers and we hope that we can help provide evidence of the opportunity in Andover in the coming years.”
Mr Berendji said M&S would try to offer staff affected an alternative job, but added that “in some cases we may have to consider redundancy“.
M&S announced last year that it may ‘speed up’ plans to close 30 stores.
Today’s announcement shows a greater sense of urgency.
Andover BID are planning to enter into discussions with M&S following today’s announcement.
ARTICLE UPDATED 12.06pm 31st January 2018