Is Marks and Spencer’s decision to close its Dundee city centre store a sign of things to come for other Tayside and Fife shops?
Last month the food and clothing retailer announced it will close its existing shop in Dundee’s Murraygate.
This will be replaced by a new outlet at the Gallagher Retail Park next year.
Its current food shop at the retail park will also shut and become part of the new site. No jobs are at risk.
M&S strategy to move to out of town sites
The strategy to close a city centre store and shift to an out of town location was recently seen in Fife.
In 2019, M&S closed its Kirkcaldy town centre shop after 80 years of trading while opening a brand-new foodhall on the outskirts of nearby Glenrothes on the same day.
The listed company has also increased the number of food outlets at petrol stations in recent years.
In May, M&S warned its three-year plan is to shut another 32 stores while opening 15 out of town branches.
It told investors: “We are now developing a growing pipeline of store relocations, moving from old multi-floor buildings, often with challenged fabric and poor access and car parking, to modern, well-located sites wherever possible.
“Ease of shopping and fast access is critical to competitiveness.
“In many cases we believe the town centre locations have lost impetus as a result of failed local authority or government policy.
“As a result, a high proportion, but not all, of our relocations are to the edge of town.
“The full-line store pipeline already has around 15 new stores planned over the next three years, including seven former Debenhams sites. We expect this to build further.
“This will help enable a further 32 store closures.”
What does this mean for Perth and Dunfermline Marks & Spencer shops?
Like Kirkcaldy and Dundee, M&S has large stores right in the heart of Perth and Dunfermline.
The long-established sites are important pulls to the city centres.
But they do fit the criteria of being multi-floor buildings without an abundance of parking provision.
Simply Food outlets in Broughty Ferry, St Andrews, Glenrothes, Fife Central Retail Park and near Inveralmond roundabout in Perth are not at risk.
M&S would not give a definitive statement on whether Perth and Dunfermline’s shops would be safe or if they would be part of the store closure programme.
The spokesperson said: “Our Dundee plans are part of our ongoing programme to reshape our store estate across the UK. We keep this under review.
“We haven’t made any announcements relating to Perth or Dunfermline.”
The Dundee closure is the latest in large city centre premises being vacant. Overgate Shopping Centre is still to replace Debenhams which closed at the start of last year.
Meanwhile the former Tesco site opposite M&S in the Murraygate has been vacant since November 2019 after landlord Sports Direct served notice.