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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Marks & Spencer to leave Bradford as city centre store shuts on Saturday

The decision to close the Marks & Spencer department store in Bradford was one that “had already been made” by the time council officials were able to hold talks with the company – according to a senior councillor.

On Saturday the company will close its city centre branch – currently the biggest unit in the Broadway Shopping Centre.

The proposal was announced in February, when the company said it was part of plans to “rotate its store estate.”

The announcement caught many, including Bradford Council, by surprise, and the Authority has told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that efforts to get the company to reconsider the closure were ultimately fruitless.

In the statement announcing the closure, M&S Regional Manager Vicky Smith consoled Bradford shoppers by advising them that although their store was closing, the company had recently spent millions of pounds improving stores in other cities. She also suggested customers could travel to Pudsey or Birstall if they want to continue shopping with M&S.

The closure announcement also came with assurances that the company would be investing £13m in its Bradford distribution centre on Newhall Way.

The centre employs 1,800 people, and is one of biggest employers in the Bradford District.

But the closure of the Broadway store means that although Bradford workers will continue to play a huge role in the company’s operations, they will have to leave the city if they want to shop in M&S.

Ahead of the closure the LDRS asked Bradford Council what efforts had been made to convince M&S to reconsider, and if there had been any updates on the £13m investment for the distribution centre.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, portfolio holder for regeneration, planning and transport, said: “Of course we’re disappointed to see the M&S retail store in the Broadway close, especially given the investment that is happening in our city centre and the imminent arrival of City of Culture 2025, but this was a decision taken by M&S nationally based on their own commercial strategy and did not involve the Council in any way.

“We’ve now seen M&S announce the closure of many other stores across the UK. “We did hold talks with M&S as soon as we became aware of the closure, but the decision had already been made.

“We’re continuing to work closely with M&S management in London to look at ways in which we can support them in developing their ambitious investment plans for their National Distribution Centre in Bradford which is a major employer in our district.”

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