A COUNCILLOR has vowed to fight to keep Redcar’s Marks and Spencer shop open as the company makes plans to move out of the seaside town.
The retailer announced earlier this month that it intends to pull out of the town where there has been a store on the High Street since 1938 and a clothing outlet store since 2008.
Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council's cabinet member for economic development, Councillor Mark Hannon, was quizzed by Liberal Democrat councillors at full council about what the authority was doing in an attempt to persuade the company to reverse its decision.
He said: "I will do absolutely everything possible within my powers to keep that store in Redcar because this is a terrible decision for the retailers of the shoppers in the town. We will work with everybody to facilitate the continuation of the store in the town.
"There are a number of issues regarding this store including that it has been neglected by the company for a number of years.
"The store has been in Redcar for 76 years and they have a lot of loyal and brilliant staff and customers."
Cllr John Hannon asked whether the authority had looked at offering the firm some business council tax relief or some temporary accommodation while possible refurbishment work was carried out.
The council's executive member for corporate resources, Cllr Norman Pickthall said: "There is no indication that business rates are behind their proposal."
Leading councillors are expected to have a meeting with company directors to discuss the proposed closure of the store.
M&S opened a Simply Food shop at Cleveland Retail Park in Skippers Lane, Middlesbrough, two years ago.
The 44 staff who work at Redcar would be redeployed elsewhere, with no compulsory redundancies, the retailer said. Staff have entered a period of consultation.
A spokesman said the decision had "not been made lightly" and said it was due to the clothing business managing its stock levels better than ever before and holding on to stock for longer, meaning its clearance business through the outlet stores was not needed to the same level.
Its online outlet business was also growing, the spokesman said.
If the plan goes ahead, the Redcar store would close by the end of the summer.