M&S chief warns Oxford Street of danger of turning into ‘Dinosaur Quarter’ as 32 stores close | United Kingdom | News

The retailer recently announced that it will close a total of 32 stores as part of plans to move away from city centers. Stuart Machin, chief executive of M&S, said London’s most famous shopping street was “on its knees” and slipping into irrelevance after falling prey to the “increasing proliferation of vulgar candy stores”.

Writing in the Telegraph, he called Mr. Goff, the settlement secretary, to allow M&S to demolish the historic Marble Arch store and replace it with a 10-story commercial and office complex.

Mr. Machin responded to the settlement section, saying there were “clear sustainability benefits to our plans”.

He added, “We need to support innovation, not create a dinosaur prey zone.

“We know that Westminster Council is making attempts to halt its decline and that the New West End Company … is leading calls for the government to stand behind investment to restore Oxford Street as a global shopping destination.”

The retailer has won approval from Westminster City Council and Greater London Authority for the proposal, but Mr Goff seized the planning application amid concerns about its impact on the environment.

Tom Barkhill, a former Governor of Llanishen and Thornhill in Wales, took to Twitter to describe M&S’s departure from major urban streets as a “disappointing” prospect.

He wrote: “The closure of M&S in my hometown two years ago was the biggest indication of downtown’s decline.

“Totally dead now. It is a really sad site to come back to and visit.”

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But Mr. Machin said the proposed store would use less than a quarter of the existing building’s capacity and would significantly exceed the government’s carbon reduction targets.

The retail chief also said Oxford Street is in dire need of investment as retailers flee the area.

He said: “When I walk down Oxford Street today, I see a stark reality staring back at me.

“One in five stores is vacant, there is a growing prevalence of tacky candy stores and nearly £600,000 worth of counterfeit goods have been seized from street vendors this year.

“The effects of Covid have brought to its knees a street that was once the jewel of UK shopping.

Visitor numbers remain 30 per cent below already dwindling pre-pandemic levels, with Oxford Street recovering after its nearby cousins ​​Bond Street and Regent Street, both of which benefited from significant redevelopment and investment.

“With inflation hitting a 30-year high, pressure will increase on both retailers and consumers’ discretionary income.”

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