End of an era as M&S closes its Rugby town centre store

New employee James Matthews is looking forward to welcoming customers to Elliott's Field
New employee James Matthews is looking forward to welcoming customers to Elliott's Field

It was the end of an era for Rugby town centre when Marks and Spencers closed its store on High Street yesterday.

The branch opened in 1937 and has been well-supported by the people of Rugby over the years.

But with the new triple-sized store at Elliott’s Field, which opens today (Wednesday), M&S said it was necessary to close the town centre store and secure its future in Rugby by focusing on the out of town park.

All 45 members of staff have been transferred to the Leicester Road site after the original branch closed yesterday (Tuesday) and an additional 90 jobs were created by the investment.

Store manager Charlotte Hayes said: “This is a very positive move and it allows us to secure our future here in the town of Rugby. We look forward to welcoming customers to our fantastic new store, which benefits from the latest M&S design and concept features, including refreshed lighting and flooring.

“We are absolutely delighted to be showcasing the very best of M&S to Rugby.”

The 42,000 sq ft store offers menswear, womenswear, childrenswear, a bakery, beauty products, a food hall, and a 133-seat cafe with views across the retail park.

Aftab Gaffar, Rugby First managing director said: “Obviously this is disappointing news but the town has been aware of the closure for a while and will recover. Marks & Spencer, as owners of the building, must make every effort to secure a new tenant for the vacant store as soon as possible and Rugby First would welcome the opportunity to work with them on this.”

Rugby MP Mark Pawsey said: “Whilst I am delighted that the new, much larger, M&S store will soon open its doors I remain incredibly disappointed that we have been unable to persuade the company to retain a presence within the town centre.”

With the old building in High Street now empty, many people have been wondering who or what will take its place.

Rugby MP Mark Pawsey hoped M&S would keep the building as a food-only store. He said: “Judging by the many conversations I have had with my constituents in recent months it is clear how much the company’s food offer is valued. There is still an overwhelming demand for a Simply Food outlet within the town centre and I hope that Marks & Spencer will think again on this issue.”

A Marks and Spencer spokesperson told the Advertiser: “We are still marketing the property and talking to potentially interested parties but we have nothing to confirm at this stage.”