Marks and Spencer to close in Woolwich - what does this mean for Eltham?

Today the News Shopper revealed that Marks and Spencer are closing their store in Woolwich and substantially reducing their offer in Lewisham.  These decisions come as Conservative warnings about the Marks and Spencer store in Eltham have been ignored by the Labour-run Greenwich Council.

 

The closure plans are a huge blow to Woolwich but once again, they reflect the Labour Council’s failure to engage with key stores and employers. In response to the plans, Greenwich Council lashed out, describing Marks and Spencer’s decision to close as ‘bizarre’ while the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party attacked the chain for a "lack of commercial judgement".  These responses simply make clear how little the Council understands the demands of business and how their decisions impact on the jobs and prosperity of the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

 

The closure of the Woolwich Marks and Spencer’s was unexpected, however, in Eltham, the Labour-run Council’s plan for the High Street (the Eltham Masterplan) produced clear objections form the chain and despite Conservative appeals for the plan to be reviewed, nothing has changed.

In reaction to the Labour-run Council’s Masterplan for Eltham, Marks and Spencer wrote:

 

Ø    “Overall, those proposals could significantly harm the operation of the store.”

 

and

Ø    “the suggestions in relation to the Marks and Spencer site are of concern. They have not been discussed and agreed with the company and, if they were to be implemented, they would have major implications for customer parking and the operation of the store.”

Conservative Parliamentary Candidate fro Eltham, Cllr Spencer Drury said “It is a huge blow to Woolwich that Marks and Spencer is closing, but this reflects the commercial reality facing retailers.  In Eltham, we need the Council to come up with a plan which supports big retailers like Marks and Spencer rather than driving them away.  We have asked again and again for the Masterplan to be reviewed, so we can build on the good points (like the cinema) and get rid of the damaging proposals but Labour simply won’t listen.  Even our local MP seems to be putting his party ahead of Eltham High Street and I can only hope that the sad closure of Woolwich Marks and Spencer does not signal a further loss in Eltham.”

 

“The bottom line is that the Labour Council does not care about Eltham and has no understanding of how business works.  Its return to power on the Council is an enormous blow to our community and I really do fear for the future.”