Leeds M&S stores named on ‘at risk of closing’ list

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Leeds could be at risk of losing its M&S stores, according to independent retail analysts.

It comes after the high street giant announced it would close around 30 of its large clothing and home stores over the next five years as it focuses on food. Another 45 would be downsized or replaced with Simply Food outlets.

Retail analysts at the Local Data Company, listed Leeds, with two department stores and Sheffield, with three, as locations which they consider vulnerable, using measurements used to understand the health of the High Street.

Also on the list, which looked at factors including vacancy rates on the High Street where they are based, are Hull and Bridlington, which have one store each.

Bridlington’s town centre was said to be “weakening” along with Carlisle, Macclesfield and Kettering.

M&S said this morning it was “pure speculation.” A spokeswoman said there was no timeline on when stores would close.

The blow would be keenly felt in Hull where the city council is investing millions in an upgrade of the city centre ahead of the expected influx of 1m visitors next year. The M&S store in the city is a lynchpin on struggling Whitefriargate.

LDC director Matthew Hopkinson said: “You could be looking at small towns that have an M&S in and outside the town centre; you could look at a location which has high vacancy rates; you could look at competition density.

“If the site if affordable, if they pay very little or low rent, it maybe breaks even, and it is cheaper to keep it open.”

In a statement Marks & Spencer said the list “is not based on any M&S data and we have not published any locations. What we have done is outlined plans to improve our store estate over the next five years which include opening 200 new Food stores and selling Clothing and Home from 60 fewer stores.”

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