Northampton Borough Council to seek 'urgent discussion' with M&S

Two huge retail units, British Home Stores and Marks & Spencer, could both stand empty if M&S give shut its doors.
Two huge retail units, British Home Stores and Marks & Spencer, could both stand empty if M&S give shut its doors.

Following the news that M&S might shut, bosses at Northampton Borough Council are urging customers to use the shops in our town centre, or "there’s a danger they’ll lose them.”

The plea for customers to use our high street follows a shock announcement this week that M&S, in the heart of Northampton's town centre, could close its doors, as part of a programme to "reshape its UK store estate."

Councillor Tim Hadland wants shoppers to use our high street.

Councillor Tim Hadland wants shoppers to use our high street.

The company will now start consulting with 96 colleagues on the proposed closure of its Abington Street store, which falls into the "proposed for closure category", meaning there has been no firm decision to shut its doors yet.

Cllr Tim Hadland, Northampton Borough Council Cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, told the Chronicle & Echo: “We are seeking an urgent discussion with bosses at M&S to discuss the situation as we would clearly like to keep them in the Northampton.

“We’ve been aware for some time that Rushden Lakes would have an impact on our town centre and we’ve been doing a great deal of work behind the scenes to prepare for that.

“Business Incentive Scheme grants have helped support a large number of independents and we’re in live talks about the future of the Greyfriars site."

Yesterday the head of region for East Midlands South at Marks & Spencer, Zoe Gibbard, said the decision to propose the closure of M&S Northampton "has been a difficult one".

Councillor Hadland added: “The shape of retail is changing and we need to adapt to that.

"We have a survey underway to help us understand people’s current retail and leisure habits, which will help inform our Local Plan. We’re also about to launch a survey on how people would like to see our market used.

“What the news about M&S demonstrates is that if people don’t use shops in their town centre, there’s a danger they’ll lose them.”

Stores that are announced as closing are: Bayswater, Clacton, Fleetwood Outlet, Holloway Road and Newton Abbot Outlet.

Those announced as ‘proposed for closure’ are: Darlington, East Kilbride, Falkirk, Kettering, Newmarket, New Mersey Speke, Northampton, Stockton and Walsall.

Councillor Hadland said the local authority is also in talks with Northampton Town Centre Business Improvement District University about "how best to take advantage" of the increase in footfall following the developement of the new Waterside Campus.