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Marks and Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe explains Deal branch closure to mayor Nick Tomaszewski

There is no hope of even an M&S food-only outlet taking over the existing Deal store.

And future local population grown through new housing won't happen soon enough to justify keeping the High Street food and clothes outlet open.

That was the stark message from Marks and Spencer boss Steve Rowe in a letter to town mayor Nick Tomaszewski.

Marks & Spencer in Deal
Marks & Spencer in Deal

The store is now doomed to shut on April 27 despite a massive local campaign to save it with more than 5,000 petition signatures.

Mr Rowe's letter to the mayorsaid: "We have considered local factors such as the town regeneration plans and future housing growth but these developments will take time to bear fruit and they will not affect the viability of the Deal store in the foreseeable future.

"In addition we do not believe it is commercially feasible to trade the Deal store as a food-only unit because the property is the wrong size and format and the investment required to modernise the building is also a key issue."

Mr Rowe was responding for a letter from Ckkr Tomaszewski demanding an explanation for plans to close the store.

He did this after a vote asking him to do so by the full town council last month.

Mr Rowe's letter is dated February 7, the day after the company confirmed the Deal shutdown date of April 27 after weeks of consultation.

The Ashford branch will also close, on May 4.

M&S chief executive Steve Rowe
M&S chief executive Steve Rowe

Mr Rowe told the Deal mayor: "We fully understand your disappointment and concern and we are aware of the impact of these announcementson local communities and residents."

He stressed that the UK retail market was under pressure with more people shopping online and so his business has to modernise its store estate.

Mr Rowe stressed before the planned closure was first announced on January 15 senior management had carefully studied all relevant commercial and financial information.

This was regarding the store's current performance and future potential.

It was a process "which concluded, regrettably, that the store is no longer viable."

The company had looked at trends in sales and profitability, operating costs, investment needs and property details such as ownership, rent and business rates.

Nick Tomaszewski
Nick Tomaszewski

Cllr Tomaszewski's letter asked Mr Rowe to turn up at a Deal Town Council meeting in person to explain why the local store was picked.

Mr Rowe said a further meeting was no necessary because the company's head of public affairs had already had detailed discussions with Keith Morris, Dover District Council leader, and Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke.

Mr Rowe concluded: "We appreciate that you will have been hoping for a different response but nevertheless I hope this letter reassures you that all possible avenues have been carefully explored."

The Deal branch had been open since 1937.

The nearest stores for M&S customers to go to after April 27 are the Dover M&S Foodhall and the food and clothes outlet at Westwood Cross in Thanet.

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