'Really sad day for Hexham' as date confirmed for Marks and Spencer closure

Marks and Spencer in Hexham
Marks and Spencer in Hexham -Credit:Marks and Spencer

A date has been set for the closure of Hexham's Marks & Spencer store, with affected staff offered alternative roles within the business.

The retail giant announced on February 27 that its store on Hexham's Maiden Walk would close, putting the decision down to "changing consumer habits". Its store on Sunderland's High Street West is also set to be axed, though no date has been set for that yet.

Hexham residents set up a petition in an attempt to save their store days after the announcement. Despite racking up more than 2,500 signatures, it has ultimately been unsuccessful, with the store set to cease trading on Saturday, May 25.

Should staff take up the alternative roles within the business, it will mean travel to the company’s stores at either Kingston Park, Newcastle, or the Metrocentre in Gateshead if they are not able to work from home. Marks and Spencer told ChronicleLive on Tuesday morning (April 10) that it was unable to share any information on how many staff are affected by the Hexham closure.

Derek Kennedy, mayor of Hexham, said it was a really sad day for the market town. He said: "Hexham is going to lose a really important store in Marks and Spencer and it's been a good servant to the town for a number of years.

"But we have to recognise that Hexham hasn't been singled out, it's a strategic decision by Marks and Spencer to close numerous stores across the UK. I just hope the empty premises can be filled with something of a high calibre to replace it, because it's a key building and part of the attraction for Hexham for a lot of people."

The closure is part of M&S's announcement in 2023 that it would close 67 closures across the country over the next five years. It has, however, announced new openings - including the Galleries expansion - and changes for North East sites as part of a £13m regional investment manager.

Philip Barker-Thomson, M&S regional manager, said: "After consulting with our colleagues, the store will close on the 25th May. Our priority is continuing individual discussions with our colleagues and wherever possible, we will offer them alternative roles with M&S.

"Though never an easy decision, shopping habits are changing so we’re rotating our store estate to make sure we have the right stores in the right place and with the right space to offer a brilliant shopping experience. We would like to thank all our customers who have shopped in the store over the years.

"We will be working hard to keep serving them in our other stores across the North East, including our Northumberland Street and Metro Centre stores, and online at marksandspencer.com. In the last year, we have invested £13million in our stores across the region and later this Spring, we will be opening our new Washington Galleries store."

Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council, added: "We are saddened to learn of the confirmed closure and our thoughts remain with all the staff affected. While the loss of any jobs is keenly felt, through our Employment Partnership we have been working with M&S and DWP to offer support to the small number of staff who are not being relocated to other stores."