Marks & Spencer to close one of largest Scottish stores but invest millions in sister site
Marks & Spencer is to close another of its largest Scottish stores as it invests in a sister city centre site.
The retail giant, which recently emerged as a festive winner after reporting strong sales figures, will shut its flagship Aberdeen store on St Nicholas Street in the heart of the city centre. The move comes amid a reshaping of M&S’s store portfolio, which has resulted in town and city centre closures, including several in Scotland, but has also seen the opening of larger out-of-town outlets, predominantly focused on food sales.
Alongside news of the Aberdeen store closure, the high street stalwart outlined £15 million plans to expand its Union Square branch in the Granite City. It is understood that the St Nicholas shop, which opened its doors in 1944, will close in 2025. Work on extending the Union Square outlet is expected to conclude that spring. It will reopen when the older branch closes.
M&S has pledged that there will be no loss of permanent jobs under the Aberdeen consolidation plans as it invests in making the Union Square store “one of the best in the country”. Almost doubling its footprint will create space for a “market style” food hall, a larger bakery, wine shop and clothing and beauty departments.
Rachel Rankine, north-east regional manager for M&S, said: “The scale of our investment is a vote of confidence in the future of retail in Aberdeen city centre. Where we have already invested in new formats, our customers have responded to the destination shopping experience.”
M&S said the changes came as part of a £30m package of projects including other Scottish stores at Largs, Dundee and Linlithgow. Recent years have seen the closure of long-established M&S stores in the likes of Falkirk, Kirkcaldy and Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street.
Business leaders in Aberdeen have previously warned of the impact any closure of the landmark St Nicholas store would have on a city centre shopping district that has already suffered from the departure of department store John Lewis in 2021.
Ryan Crighton, policy director at Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “The people of Aberdeen are united behind efforts to regenerate Union Street and we share the sadness that many will feel at the loss of the St Nicholas store. However, unlike the sudden departure of John Lewis, this will be a phased migration.”
Last week it emerged that more than 9,000 M&S shop workers were set for large payouts under a share scheme thanks to the strong festive performance. The group said it had started the new year with a “spring in our step” after sales jumped over Christmas and its food halls saw a record number of shoppers.
Like-for-like sales lifted 9.9 per cent across its food arm, while comparable store sales were 4.8 per cent higher in its clothing and home division in the quarter to December 30. But chief executive Stuart Machin warned that expectations for economic growth remained “uncertain”, with consumer and geopolitical risks. M&S also faces additional cost pressures from higher-than-anticipated wage and business rates-related cost inflation.
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