Felixstowe Marks & Spencer: Closure protest attracts dozens

The protest outside Felixstowe's Marks & Spencer
Image caption Dozens of people gathered outside Felixstowe's Marks & Spencer in their bid to try to save it

A protest has been held in a bid to save a Marks & Spencer store described as the "heartbeat" of a town.

The shop in Felixstowe, Suffolk is one of 17 proposed to close in the latest phase of the retailer's five-year plan to shut more than 100 stores by 2022.

People have described the Hamilton Road shop as being a "lifeline" for older people and said it would be "devastating" if it closed.

M&S said a decision to close a store was "never easy".

More than 3,200 people have signed a petition to save the store in the seaside and port town, and about 40 people gathered in the cold and rain to join the fight to keep it open.

Mike Titchener, chairman of the Felixstowe Town Centre Residents Association, said: "It's always a really busy store, it's the flagship store of the high street, it's the heartbeat of the town.

"The demographic of Felixstowe is elderly. It's a lifeline for them. If we lose it, it will be devastating."

Image caption Protestors gathered in the cold and rain to show their support for the store

The nearest alternative store is the M&S Simply Food in Martlesham Heath, almost 10 miles away, which Helen Woodhouse, 38, said was a "long way", particularly for those who do not drive.

Lindsay White, 61, from Felixstowe, said: "An awful lot of people shop here on the strength of a Marks & Spencer being here.

"If we lose this store, it's going to be quite a blow for the high street."

An M&S spokeswoman said: "Proposing to close stores is never easy, for our colleagues, customers or the local community, but it is vital for the future of M&S."

The Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal, Therese Coffey, said she would ask M&S representatives to reconsider when she meets them in Parliament next week.

The other stores which M&S has proposed to close are: Ashford, Barrow, Bedford, Boston, Buxton, Cwmbran, Deal, Huddersfield, Hull, Junction One Antrim Outlet, Luton Arndale, Newark, Northwich, Rotherham, Sutton Coldfield and Weston-super-Mare.

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