RETAIL giant Marks and Spencer has announced it will close its town centre store in Clacton early next year.

The company has earmarked the town's Pier Avenue store for closure in early 2019.

The company said it will now enter a period of consultation with all affected employees.

M&S told the Gazette it will be closing its store in Clacton in line with the opening of its new Foodhall in Walton.

It added that all 57 employees who work in Clacton will be redeployed to nearby stores.

The closure is part of the company's programme to reshape its UK store estate.

Marc O’Connor, head of region for Essex at Marks and Spencer, said: “The decision to close M&S Clacton was incredibly difficult.

“Our dedicated colleagues will relocate to nearby stores including M&S Colchester, Clacton Outlet and our new Walton Foodhall, which is due to open in 2019.”


  • The M&S store in Pier Avenue, Clacton

Sacha Berendji, retail, operations and property director, said the company remains committed to serving customers in the area through a number of other locations, including at Clacton Factory Outlet and in Colchester.

He 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.”

Marks and Spencer is expected to close 100 stores by 2022, but has announced that it is accelerating its transformation programme.

The closures mainly affect its clothing and home stores, which have underperformed for several years.

Graham Webb, chairman of Clacton Town Partnership, said the announcement is a “devastating blow” for the town.

“This is a really dark day for our town centre,” he said.

“It will leave a big void in the middle of Pier Avenue.

“It is a very large unit and you have to wonder who will take it on.

“It is a major blow for the town centre when you couple that with the fact that we are getting yet another out-of-town shopping centre being built at Brook Park.”

“We did have a few concerns because it seems to be the trend that M&S closes stores after building the new foodhalls nearby, but we thought we’d be OK because Walton was too far away.

“The town centre will be losing its sparkle.”

Essex MEP Alex Mayer added: “M&S is one of the lynch pins of the town centre and a shop people come into town to visit.

"Going to an out-of-town store just isn’t the same."

Neil Stock, Tendring Council leader, said he was saddened to hear of M&S' plans to close its Clacton store.

“First and foremost I extend my thoughts to the staff affected by this announcement, it must be a worrying time for them and their families,” he said.

“We will use our excellent partnership links with DWP to ensure that support is available for any employees should it be needed.

“The council will look to work with M&S to find new tenants for the location as soon as possible to keep Clacton town centre vibrant and an attractive offer for shoppers and other businesses.”

Customers have been left shocked that high street “staple” Marks and Spencer will be pulling out of town.

Terry Fairweather, 66, from Clacton, added: “It is such a pity. The town is decaying - all we have now is drunks sitting in the town centre and now we’ll have no shops.

“We want this to be a nice place to visit, but all we have is beggars.

“I like M&S. Obviously you pay a little bit extra, but you’re paying for quality.

“It also encourages people into town who then shop locally for other things.”

Connie Cox, 80, from Sherwood Drive, Clacton, added: “The town centre is just going to die.

“In another year there won’t be any shops at all. Shops are just disappearing - everything is going online."