M&S has announced it is to close its outlet at Fleetwood Freeport at the end of July, sparking bitter disappointment in the town.
It coincides with unrelated developments at Freeport itself, with the retail park announcing it is to change its name and identity.
The Fleetwood M&S outlet will close on July 28 and 13 of the chain’s other stores are proposed for closure or set to close, as part of M&S’s programme to reshape its UK store estate.
There will be no job losses at Fleetwood, with 23 employees who work there to be redeployed to nearby stores.
But the closure has not been welcomed in the town.
It comes just over 30 years after M&S pulled a major high street branch out of Fleetwood town centre, a move which many residents believe sparked a massive decline on Lord Street, which is still being felt today.
Fleetwood MP Cat Smith commented: “I am deeply disappointed by the announcement M&S is to close its store at Freeport Outlet Village in Fleetwood, which I know will impact many of my constituents who both work and shop at the outlet.
“I would urge them to consider relocating the Fleetwood M&S store to Lord Street to safeguard local jobs, as well as offering the people of Fleetwood the opportunity to continue shopping in the heart of our community.”
Coun Marge Anderton said: “This is bad news, M&S is one of the biggest names at Freeport.
“When M&S closed its Lord Street store it devastated the town and I don’t think it has ever recovered.”
M&S says it remains committed to serving Fylde coast customers through its other local stores, including Cleveleys Simply Food and Blackpool.
M&S will now close over 100 stores in total by 2022, including 21 that have already closed and the 14 stores that have been announced.
Lisa Rogers, head of region for Lancashire and Cumbria at Marks & Spencer (M&S), said, “The decision to close M&S Fleetwood outlet was a difficult one to make.
“We understand our many loyal customers in the area will be disappointed by this news, but I am pleased that our dedicated colleagues will be relocating to nearby stores including Cleveleys Simply Food and our Blackpool store.”
The 14 closures are spread across Britain, from Falkirk in Scotland to Newmarket in Suffolk.
Sacha Berendji, retail, operations and property director at Marks & Spencer said: “Closing stores isn’t easy but it is vital for the future of M&S.
“Where we have closed stores, we are seeing an encouraging number of customers moving to nearby stores and enjoying shopping with us in a better environment, which is why we’re continuing to transform our estate with pace.”
Meanwhile, Freeport Fleetwood is set to announce its change of name and identity at its launch weekend, beginning this Saturday.
Bosses at the enterprise were remaining tight lipped about which group that be, and insisted that information is to be revealed at the weekend as part of big development plans.
Freeport Fleetwood Centre Manager, Amanda Daniels, said: “The whole team at Freeport Fleetwood is excited to reveal to all our customers the new look and name for the centre.”
The launch weekend will include various family activities.