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Bargain retailer B&M set to move into the former Marks and Spencer building in Gravesend


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A multi-million contract for the former Marks and Spencer building in Gravesend town centre is due to be signed this week paving the way for a new store to open.

After months of speculation we can reveal negotiations to take over the prime site has resulted in B&M, said to have a passion for selling top brands at bargain prices, going to move in.

The contract was due to be signed this week, possibly today (Thursday). It is good news for the town, which lost M&S in 2014 and is now seeing next-door neighbour BHS under threat of closure.

Contractors are starting to measure up the old Marks and Spencer ready for B&M
Contractors are starting to measure up the old Marks and Spencer ready for B&M

But even at BHS there is still hope it will survive in some form as administrators search for a buyer. Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley is considering buying the chain.

A source close to the B&M deal, who asked not to be identified, said: “The contract will be signed in the next two days. There will be quite a bit of refurbishing work needed to be carried out but I expect it will open its doors in September.”

B&M opened its first store in Blackpool in 1978 and today boasts 500, employing 22,500.

Every week it notches up some three million customer transactions at its branches. In Kent, it has stores in Canterbury, Sheppey and Dover. It remains unclear whether B&M has opted for the freehold of the property, going at a price of £3 million, or a new 15-year lease.

B&M has the slogan Big Brands Big Savings
B&M has the slogan Big Brands Big Savings

Commercial agents overseeing the deal are CBRE which has described the 52,302 sq ft property as a “prime retail building arranged over four floors, with two trading floors”. When M&S announced it was closing its doors, pensioner and loyal customer Vera Purll – in her 90s – got 800 people to sign her petition to save it, and that was added to 2,000 names collected by this paper.

Meanwhile, on the BHS front, administrators seeking a buyer for the collapsed chain have received 50 expressions of interest for all or part of the business.

A statement issued by Mike Ashley said: “Any continuing interest that we have in BHS would be on the basis that we would anticipate that there would be no job losses, including jobs at head office, and that all stores would remain open.”

he familiar traditional gold lettering of Marks and Spencer in Gravesend, was taken down after the store closed
he familiar traditional gold lettering of Marks and Spencer in Gravesend, was taken down after the store closed
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