Published: 10:26, 05 April 2019
| Updated: 13:09, 05 April 2019
The opening date for a major new Marks & Spencer store has been put back until 2020.
The retail giant intends to open on the Eclipse Park, near Junction 7 of the M20, in Maidstone.
But after initially announcing it would open this year, it has now confirmed shoppers will not be able to access it until 2020.
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The firm, which recently announced the closure of a number of town centre sites in Kent, has started work on the 84,044sq ft building after signing a lease with Gallagher Properties.
The store will sell clothing and home goods as well as having a Foodhall and M&S café.
It will create up to 300 jobs in the local area.
Sacha Berendji, retail, operations and property director at Marks & Spencer, said: “As part of our transformation plan we’re reshaping our store estate to respond to the needs of the modern consumer.
"In Maidstone, we’re creating a shopping experience fit for the future by investing in our new store at Eclipse Park.
"We’re delighted to be working with Gallagher Group and we look forward to opening our doors to customers next year.”
When the project secured planning permission last summer, the director had said "Maidstone will be our premier opening in 2019 for the whole country".
A spokesman for Gallagher said the delay was not due to any problem, but simply due to the amount of time for paperwork to be completed on the project.
It was originally scheduled to open in December this year. It is now ear-marked for work to be completed by Easter 2020 and opened in the summer.
It is being constructed by Gallagher, which is using Kentish ragstone walling and concrete supplied from its nearby Hermitage Quarry.
Pat Gallagher, chairman of the Gallagher Group, said: “This project highlights the full ‘start to finish’ capabilities of Gallagher Group, with our different companies all working together to deliver a major new store for this highly-respected retailer.”
M&S joins Next Home & Fashion, which opened a store at Eclipse Park in 2014.
Gallagher Properties also has planning permission for offices and a hotel at Eclipse Park.
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More by this authorChris Britcher