Published: 12:51, 15 January 2019
| Updated: 09:34, 16 January 2019
Shoppers have said they are "devastated" at plans to close Marks and Spencer stores in their towns as the struggling retailer continues with plans to shut 100 shops across the country.
M&S stores in Ashford and Deal face closure in plans announced today by the high street stalwart.
The move will leave gaping holes in the high streets of both towns, with nearly 90 staff uncertain about their future.
Shoppers in Deal react to the M&S closure plans
Maggie Walker, 74, from South Ashford, said: "If it's closing, I think it's absolutely disgraceful.
"I use it all the time and the only other one is the one over by Sainsbury's and it's a pain because if you've got no transport, how are you supposed to get there?
"Everything's shutting down. What is going on with this town?
"We're supposed to be regenerating it but it sounds to me like their shutting things and making it like World War Three.
"It's terrible what's going on. All they're doing is building houses and flats and nobody's got anything to do."
Pauline Bisgrove, who lives in Singleton, near Ashford, said: "Usually I go to M&S when I get vouchers, I go and have a good spend with the vouchers, but I don't go in on a regular basis.
"I'm sad that it could be going as I now have to go all the way to Canterbury and nearly all my clothes come from M&S.
"I have used the foodhall and I do actually shop online at M&S, sometimes its much easier than coming into the store."
Ken Mulholland, who lives in St Michael’s, near Tenterden, said: “I do appreciate the need for business to cut costs when particular branches aren’t trading as they should.
“I have worked for M&S in the past, at the head office which was based in Baker Street.
“I’m very sad that the branch has been considered for closure in Ashford, it will be a loss to the community.
“I come to Ashford frequently and always pop into M&S, I think it is a loss.”
Joanne Stockhall, who lives in Deal and used to work in the M&S store in the town, said: "It shouldn't close. It's the hub of Deal, the staff are friendly and you can get loads of choice.
"This internet shopping is a load of rubbish because you can't feel the clothes. It's just wrong.
"It's sad because I've got lots of work colleagues in there."
Cherida Lee from Walmer said: "I would be devastated if it closed.
"I'm in and out of here constantly. If they haven't got what I want in stock I order it. The food department is very useful. There are some really good things you can't find elsewhere."
She said she would travel to Dover or Westwood Cross if she needed to but it would be "very inconvenient".
She added: "Neither of them is on the doorstep. This is so nearby. I just pop into town and I'm there."
Maureen Collison, of St Edmunds Road in Deal, said: "I'm devastated.
"For a start, all those people are going to lose their jobs and for another thing us old ones that only come to town twice a week, we can only get into Deal, we can't get anywhere else, and I do a lot of shopping in Marks.
"It's always been here. I buy most of my clothes in there. I think it's really dreadful."
Ashford MP Damian Green said: "After so much good news about Ashford town centre it is desperately sad that M&S is closing.
"We will have to work hard to find a replacement."
Shopper Maggie Richardson, who lives in Magazine Road, said: "M&S have been in Ashford for lots of years.
"I remember going in the old store on the high street.
"It's honestly unbelievable. My next door neighbour must have been over there this morning.
"She always goes in there for me, she told me that it was closing.
"The one at the outlet is a miserable place. I really can't get my head around it, it has always been there."
M&S says it expects to redeploy most of the affected staff.
Aspokesman said: "M&S will be speaking to each colleague individually and will work hard to redeploy or offer redeployment to colleagues, and it is expected the majority of colleagues will stay with M&S."