‘HURT and disappointment’ were the feelings in South Shields after Marks & Spencer announced 80 years of trading at its King Street store will come to an end.
The death knell has sounded for a store which has been in operation since 1934.
Yesterday, its 37 staff were told the shop would close its doors on Saturday, March 29, and they will be transferred to the retail giant’s outlet in North Tyneside’s Silverlink retail park. The news was met with devastation from staff, and shoppers were left wondering what it means for the borough’s main shopping area.
The company says its decision to close the store was “not taken lightly” and comes after a review of its stores.
Barbara Heslop, Marks and Spencer’s regional manager for the North East, said: “We’re creating a bigger, better store at Silverlink that will serve all of our customers’ needs.
“As a result, we are relocating our South Shields team and closing our store there.
“This is not a decision that we have taken lightly but we believe extending our Silverlink store is the right decision for M&S and our customers.”
Coun John Wood, a Labour representative for the Beacon and Bents ward which covers the town centre, said: “I’m actually hurt and disappointed, when we are trying our hardest to regenerate the town and Marks & Spencer has taken this decision.
“I understand with the current economic climate – but it’s just a shock.
“A lot of people go in to the store and do their shopping and it did well in the area. It is like Binns all over again.
“It is going to leave a big hole that the council is now going to have to fill.
“We are really pushing ahead with 365 to revitalise the town centre and then we get this sort of shock news – I’m just gobsmacked.”