Marks and Spencer to close century-old store in crushing blow to locals

Marks and Spencer started as a Kirkgate market stall in Leeds in 1884, titled “Marks’ Penny Bazaar”.

It has since grown to be one of the biggest British high-street retailers with around 1,064 locations, but will soon lose one of its historic branches.

Earlier this year in March the brand revealed that the Walworth Road shop in South London would be closing down for good.

The store closure marks the end of a staggering 111 years of trade and has sparked a strong response from devastated locals and politicians alike.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition in Southwark Cllr Victor Chamberlain has written to the Marks and Spencer CEO, imploring the company not to close the branch.

One person wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “The urban decay is real – just visit Walworth Road if you don’t believe, where after over a century, Marks and Spencer has had enough of all the shoplifting by locals and policies to hinder inward custom and is leaving.”

Another campaigned to save the branch, urging: “We Need To Keep Our Local Store Marks and Spencer Walworth Road Open – Sign the Petition!”

A third said: “Many thanks to the WalworthSociety for their efforts defending the much-loved Walworth Road M&S – the petition already has over 700 signatures!”

Others branded the store “iconic” and claimed that the closure marks “the end of an era”.

It has been confirmed the shop will be pulling down the shutters for the last time on Saturday, June 8.

Gordon Scott, M&S regional manager, said: “We would like to thank all of our customers who have shopped in the store over the years, who we will keep serving up until closure and beyond that, from our other stores nearby and across London.

“After consulting with our colleagues, we have informed them of the closure and our priority now is continuing individual discussions about what this decision means for them. Wherever possible, we will offer them alternative roles with M&S.”

The reason for the closure has been credited to the ongoing store rotation which has affected M&S branches across the country.

Gordon noted that the brand is focused on operating the “right stores with the right space” to offer customers a “brilliant shopping experience”.

In 2022, the high street giant announced plans to close 67 underperforming stores as part of a strategic overhaul. This included the controversial demolition of the Oxford Street flagship M&S, which is still yet to happen.

But it’s not all bad news as M&S is also opening a range of new stores across the country, with a focus on Foodhalls rather than their older department-style format.

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