Fears over M&S closure on Southend High Street
Business leaders fear that the closure of Marks and Spencers “is the death of Southend High Street as we know it”.
The retail giant has announced it will close 30 more stores across the country as part of the next phase of its long-term transformation plan.
Changes are accelerating in the wake of the pandemic, a year of lockdowns that saw the company register an annual loss of £ 201million over the past year.
Stores that struggle to make a profit are most likely to be shut down.
Southend High Street has struggled to hold back the retail giants in recent years, with Debenhams the latest to close after shutting down stores for good earlier this month.
Lynda Taylan, manager of the Evapo Southend vaping store, next to the M&S, said: “It would be a huge loss. More and more stores are disappearing. M&S attracts the highest paying customers, so where will these people go?
“We will see fewer customers come and go because they walk by. Many of our customers shop at M&S.
“People don’t just walk up and down Main Street, they go to a particular store.
“But there is nothing for them to see. It would be the death of Main Street as we know it.
M&S has already closed or relocated 59 stores, but said it was accelerating changes to its store portfolio following the impact of the pandemic.
Suzanne Gloyne, Director of Southend BID, said: “It is currently not confirmed which 30 M&S stores are expected to close over the next ten years and I remain optimistic that our Southend store will remain open as it is frequently occupied by residents. , visitors and employed personnel. In the region. ”
Tony Cox, leader of the Southend Tories, fears the potential closure will leave Main Street “singing its last line”.
He said: “It would be a huge shame to lose Main Street M&S.
“The council needs to offer them support and incentives to stay. This support could make all the difference. ”
The Echo revealed last month how 17 stores were empty on Southend High Street.
Old, now-abandoned stores include Quiz, Ponden Home Interiors, Ann Summers, and Dorothy Perkins, with the old Monsoon building advertised on Rightmove.
Independent niche shops, activities for young people and a mini-skating rink have been proposed to fill them.
Ron Woodley, Deputy Head of Southend Council, added: “Southend’s future looks bright. I hope M&S will not make a decision based on attendance, when we have had more than a year of the Covid pandemic.
“I hope they base their decision on the future of Main Street, rather than the past.”