A town centre Marks and Spencer will close permanently after Christmas, staff have been told.
News of the planned closure of the branch in Week Street, Maidstone, comes just over a year after the retail giant opened a new store on the edge of the town at Eclipse Park.
An exact date has not yet been confirmed but bosses say it will close in January 2022 as part of the company’s plans to rebuild and reshuffle after the devastating impacts of the pandemic.
It’s not known how many jobs this will affect but M&S says it will try to offer staff positions in other stores where possible.
Sarah Blackburn, M&S regional manager, said: “Shopping habits are changing, so we’re rotating our store estate to make sure we have the right stores to offer our customers a brilliant shopping experience.
“As part of this transformation, we have today announced to colleagues our proposal to close the M&S Maidstone store at 44 Week Street in January 2022.
“Our priority now is to talk to our colleagues about what this announcement means for them and, wherever possible, offer them alternative roles with M&S.
“We appreciate that this will be disappointing news for some and we would like to thank all our customers who have shopped with us in the store.
“We will be working hard to keep serving them in our recently opened Maidstone Eclipse Park store which offers local customers a wide range of clothing and home products, a new-look M&S Foodhall and Café, and click and collect facilities for shopping online at M&S.com.”
The firm, which has a number of stores across the county, revealed in May the pandemic had seen it record a loss of £201.2 million in the year up to March.
The year before, it had delivered a £67.2m profit.
The new store in Eclipse Park meant the womenswear branch, which at the time was the company’s second store on Week Street, had to close.
A £300,000 refurbishment was instead spent on moving stock to the current branch which formerly sold menswear – but even that investment has not appeared to be enough to save it.