THE PROPOSED closure of the Marks & Spencer store in Bradford city centre has been described as “a vote of no confidence” by an MP.

The shock announcement left many customers fearing for the high street’s future.

M&S - which has been in the shopping centre since it opened in 2015 - said the retailer is "rotating (their) store estate" and would offer workers alternative roles at other stores in Leeds.

There have been calls for The Broadway and Bradford Council to pull out all the stops and attempt to talk M&S into reconsidering.

The Broadway said it had no communication about M&S's plans prior to the announcement.

Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, was surprised to hear “a successful company” like M&S was proposing to close its doors.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Broadway shopping centre in Bradford

Mr Davies said: “M&S is a destination shop, people will go to places because there’s an M&S. It’s going to have a devastating impact on the city centre. It’s not as if M&S are doing badly, they’re one of the retail success stories. It’s unfortunately a vote of no confidence in Bradford and you have to wonder, given how money tens of millions of pounds Bradford Council have spent, you’ve got to ask what on earth has it achieved if the upshot is that flagship shops like Marks & Spencer want to leave? It calls into question the leadership strategy of Bradford Council.

“I don’t think anybody could say going into Bradford at the moment is a brilliant experience. People don’t go into Bradford and shops want to leave. It’s a nightmare getting into Bradford at the moment. It’s terrible.”

He added: “Before they started with this huge programme of suspected improvements, what consultation did they do with firms like M&S? If you’re going to do major things in a city centre you’ve got to get some buy-in from the people who get the economy going. Did M&S get any communication about what they were planning to do? It’s not them [Bradford Council] that create economic growth, it’s businesses."

“It’s a massive vote of no confidence in the leadership of Bradford Council. M&S are a successful company. M&S are absolutely booming at the moment.”

Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Executive Member for Planning, Transportation and Regeneration, branded the decision “disappointing”, adding that it comes at a time of great change in the city’s history.

Speaking on Tuesday, Cllr Ross-Shaw said: “More broadly this move just underlines the changing nature of our high street and why it has been so vital for Bradford Council to invest in our transformational regeneration programme.”

Keith Wildman, who runs the Record Cafe on North Parade, said he was “gutted” by the announcement. 

The businessman, who uses the M&S store often, added: “That said. It is always very quiet and the stock [is] not a patch on Guiseley or anywhere else. Loads of yellow sticker/near date stuff. And it’s very hard to drive to Broadway now.

“From Shipley it’s much easier to drive to Guiseley or even Pudsey where you can park for free and there’s more stock. So I imagine most people would be doing the same. Just getting the basics now in Bradford city centre is tough.”

Meanwhile, the T&A asked city centre shoppers for their views.

One woman, who commutes from Shipley to her job in the city centre, said: “It would be another big hole in the Broadway, which would be a bit of a blow to it unless they can get another big name in there."

Another shopper said: “There’s a decline of elderly people coming into town, they don’t feel safe. It is an older person shop and they do cater really well. 

“But then things move on, fashions change, and dynamics change in city centres."

One man, who works in Bradford, said: “It would be a shame because there’s so much potential at the moment with City of Culture and lots of people looking towards the city, to lose a big store like that would be a shame."

One man described the news as “disheartening”.

“The city’s growing so you think there’d be people coming in,” he said, "Especially with all the stuff they’re doing like City of Culture."

One woman, who had just been into M&S, was shocked to hear the news.

She said: “I don't think that's a good thing because it doesn't do anybody any good, not the staff, not the customers, not the city. I'm actually in shock. What else will remain in Bradford if we don't have a Marks and Spencer right now?

“I will be very very disappointed if Marks and Spencer closes.”

One man suggested the cost of living crisis has left shoppers searching for affordable, low-cost shops.

“M&S is known as one of the more expensive ones,” he said.