M&S store closure ‘would hit town hard’
TOWN leaders and business owners fear the potential closure of Marks & Spencer would be ‘catastrophic’ for the town centre.
The firm is preparing to shut around 30 stores and downsize another 45 to ‘Simply Food’ stores because of falling profits.
But M&S bosses won’t confirm if the Macclesfield branch is at risk.
Since the shock announcement two weeks ago, retail analysts from the Local Data Company have speculated that the Mill Street store could among those most likely to close.
Borough and town councillor Beverley Dooley, who also runs a business in the town centre, said she is ‘ deeply concerned’.
She said: “If you take away one of the biggest shops on Mill Street it will have a direct impact on footfall, which will affect many businesses.
“If you combine the potential closure of M&S and plans to redevelop Barracks Mill into retail units then that would catastrophic for the high street.
“There are lots of rumours and speculation which is fuelling uncertainty.”
Fellow borough and town councillor Janet Jackson shares that worry, adding: “The town centre needs high end independents but also good quality chains and M&S is top notch.
“When Next moved to Lyme Green it left a massive hole in the offering on the high street. We can’t have that happen again. It is a very important trader in the town.”
At the other end of town on Market Place, Mary from Margin Music said the closure of M&S ‘would make a tough situation worse’.
She said: “It’s a real battle for businesses, especially at this end of town, so to think one our biggest stores could close would be devastating. Footfall is moving in the wrong direction. This is more bad news.”
However Keith Smith, from Macclesfield Civic Society, is more optimistic. He said: “It’s really too early to tell what will happen, but I can’t see M&S just shutting down because it owns the building. Even if it does close, as a landlord it will want a successful new tenant.”
Macclesfield’s Mill Street store offers food, clothing – including baby wear and kidswear – beauty, cards and a cafe.
But it faces stiff competition from a much bigger store at Handforth Dean, which also boasts a large home and garden department.
A spokesman for M&S said the company is not in a position to confirm which of its 30 stores will close but said the closures are part of a five year programme which includes 200 new stores and boosting its Simply Food chain.
Marks and Spencers in Macclesfield