MARKS AND SPENCER’S Shirley store could be set to close its doors after being deemed ‘no longer commercially viable’.
Bosses are proposing to close the ‘Simply Food’ store on Stratford Road after it has seen a sustained decline in its performance over a long period of time.
The decision, which will now go to consultation, will affect all 38 members of staff at the store who have been offered redeployment in nearby stores.
In an official statement, an M&S spokesperson said: “After much consideration, we have taken the difficult decision to propose the closure of our Shirley Simply Food store.
“We will be offering roles for all colleagues in nearby stores if the proposal goes ahead.”
They added the company were not concerned that local people were not shopping with them, but that they were choosing to shop at their bigger stores.
With a wider range of goods available just miles away in the larger Sears Retail Park and Solihull stores, many have believed the closure of the Shirley high street store has been inevitable for years.
At the time of building the ‘Simply Food’ shop at the Retail Park, Marks and Spencer said they were confident there was enough footfall to ‘sustain the performance of the Shirley store.’
But, just two years later its future is in jeopardy.
Speaking about the store’s closure, Green Party councillor for Shirley West, Coun Howard Allen said the news was ‘disappointing but expected’.
He added: “It’s not a surprise, but is a shame as many people had been hopeful it would not come to this.
“Since Parkgate construction began, the number of empty shops on the high street has increased by 20 per cent and what many people don’t realise is that the primary purpose of the development was to rengerate the high street.
“But, there’s no point being negative.
“We need to encourage people back to the high street to prevent it from looking so tired and run down, so we’re calling for a Shirley Business Investment Development (BID) to be set up.
“Shirley is as big as Acock’s Green, who have a BID, so we want to see the council sponsor a BID to encourage investors and traders back to Shirley high street by offering business relief rates to those taking over empty units.
“This closure should be a wake-up call that something needs to be done, as I truly believe that high streets across the country including Shirley’s have a future.”