SHOPPERS have been left divided after a supermarket giant agreed to explore the possibility of opening a store in a city centre it recently announced it would leave.

Marks and Spencer bosses sat down with Colchester MP Will Quince for a meeting in which they discussed the future of the retail giant’s presence in Colchester.

The crunch talks, which were apparently “really positive”, came after the supermarket unveiled controversial plans to close its longstanding High Street store.

Choosing to vacate the city centre in favour of opening a larger shop at the Stane Retail Park, in Stanway, did not go down well with residents who launched campaign.

Gazette: Work at M&S at Stane Retail Park is underwayWork at M&S at Stane Retail Park is underway

The top dogs at Marks and Spencer, however, have now agreed to look into the possibility of replacing their current store with a foodhall.

The news has filled some shoppers with a renewed optimism, but others have been left questioning whether or not it is a good idea.

Jason Edwards said: “If they don’t get enough trade now to stay profitable, why would they stay? The town has been dying for a long time.

“Each time another shop leaves it means more than likely others that can, will, and those that cannot, will close.

“I think unless you live really close to town there is little to no reason to go there – I do not know anybody who makes the trip to town for shopping.”

Janet Malt, on the other hand, believes a foodhall would at least bring something to the city, while also keeping Colchester High Street’s affiliation with M&S alive

She said: “It is better than nothing, but we need the clothing too. Marks and Spencer, please help our city centre stay alive.”

Gazette: Historic - Marks and Spencer, in High Street, Colchester, has been open for nearly 100 years

Glynis Hutchins would also be pleased to see Marks and Spencer remain in the city centre in some capacity.

“She added: “I would be very happy to have the foodhall and maybe the rest could be rented out to smaller shops, so like a mall with the M&S foodhall in the centre.”

Other shoppers, however, have reiterated their calls for the supermarket to keep its all-purpose store in the High Street

Jenny Scofield said: “Keep the whole store, we need clothes shopping opportunities, not just food.”