Mar 9, 2021
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Marks & Spencer plans to downsize Oxford Street flagship

Mar 9, 2021

First, John Lewis unveiled plans to convert part of its Oxford Street, London flagship into office space. And now Marks & Spencer is doing the same. The retail giant wants to convert the upper floors of its Oxford Street site near Marble Arch while retaining retail space on the lower levels.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

The moves on the part of both prominent retail names come as physical retail faces its biggest challenge in decades, not only because of the pandemic-linked lockdown, but because of the wider shift to online shopping. Their proposals reflect a realisation that physical retail stores need to pay their way in a future that's more heavily digital.

M&S aims to consult with local stakeholders on its proposals, with its plan being to develop a smaller but much more modern store that will still offer its full range of products.

The massive Marble Arch location was previously a magnet for Oxford Street shoppers, including the all-important tourists who flocked there pre-pandemic. The branch has also been used as a testbed for styles before the retailer rolls them out around the country. The company has occupied the site since 1930.

The shop currently covers 160,000 square feet and has five floors of retail space. The plan would see it being converted into nine levels with only the bottom two being dedicated to retail, the rest being prime office space. The company is also planning landscaped public areas.

The planning application will be lodged next year as the company powers ahead with its Never the Same Again programme. Only this week, that same programme saw it announcing the debut of new international webstores targeting an extra 46 markets.

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