M&S has announced that it is consulting with 77 colleagues on the proposed closure of its Luton Mall store.
The proposed closure is part of M&S’s programme to reshape its UK store estate.
Lee Boon, M&S head of region for Home Counties North, said: “Proposing to close a store is a very difficult decision and supporting our colleagues throughout this process will be our top priority.
“We’ll be speaking with each of them individually over the coming weeks about what’s best for them.
“Our teams will continue to welcome customers to our other locations in the region, including our high street stores in Hemel Hempstead and St Albans.”
Nearby stores to M&S Luton Arndale include:
M&S Harpenden Foodhall (7 miles, 14 mins away)
M&S St Albans (11.2 miles, 19 mins away)
M&S Hemel Hempstead (12 miles, 18 mins away)
In November 2016 M&S announced a five-year UK store estate programme to improve the quality of its Clothing Home space for customers.
Since then a number of announcements have been made. This has included closing 30 stores, three of which were relocations.
In May 2018 M&S announced that it will continue to accelerate its space plan after seeing better than expected numbers of customers moving to shop at other nearby M&S locations and its target to have one-third of sales online by 2022.
M&S will close, or close and relocate, over 100 full line stores. Today M&S has announced 16 stores that are proposed to close and one store that we will close and relocate to a Foodhall.
Gavin Shuker, MP for Luton South, said: “I’ve been informed by Head Office at Marks and Spencer that the company is consulting with the workforce on the closure of the town centre branch of M&S (at The Mall). This is clearly deeply concerning for the town and the nearly 80 members of staff who work there.
“The company says its assessment of the store is that is no longer viable. It is of great concern that a store of this size could leave the town.
“M&S is one of those ‘anchor’ shops which draws visitors and residents into the town centre. It’s also a significant employer.
“I’ve written to the company this morning asking for more information about what is happening to staff and whether other locations in the town are being explored. The company have told me it is seeking to redeploy staff where possible, and my thoughts are with those who work at the store today.”
Luton Labour MEP Alex Mayer said: “This is devastating news for the staff and a blow to Luton shoppers. M&S is one of the lynch pins of the town centre.
“Since 2015 more than 100,000 retail jobs have been lost in stores across Britain, as real wages have stagnated and the Government’s botched handling of the Brexit negotiations has hit consumer and business confidence.
“The Government need a plan. They should urgently reform business rates to ease the burden on traditional high streets and town centres.
“In these uncertain economic times, I would also urge the M&S management to abandon their long-held resistance to recognising Usdaw as the union to represent its staff.”