Jan 18, 2023
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M&S CEO defends rebuild plan, says Marble Arch store is riddled with asbestos

Jan 18, 2023

As M&S’s long battle to knock down and rebuild its London Marble Arch store rumbles on, the retailer’s boss has made a fresh claim that its redevelopment plans are the right solution.

Image: Nigel Taylor

Although battling a public enquiry and opposition to the building’s demolition from heritage campaigners, CEO Stuart Machin has claimed the store is “riddled with asbestos” and insists its controversial plans to redevelop the site are “the right – and only – workable solution” to save it.

Machin said: “The sad reality is Marble Arch underperforms renewed stores like Hedge End in Southampton and Bluewater in Kent; it belongs to a bygone era.”

He said that its plans will create a “first-class, digitally-connected shopping experience in a brand-new, vibrant store with contemporary high ceilings and adaptable retail space”.

He also said that the “poorly designed, outdated, and highly inefficient collection of buildings” are not fit for purpose for customers or staff.

He also claimed the revamped building would be among the top 1% on sustainability performance in London.

“The current site delivers such poor sustainability performance it requires significant and unsustainable investment to keep running,” said Machin. “If we leave M&S Marble Arch to continue trading as it is, the building’s energy efficiency – which is unfortunately already very poor – will only continue to deteriorate.”

Machin also questioned the future of the site if M&S plans do not go ahead. “If M&S cannot make retrofit work at Marble Arch – and we know we cannot – then who can? I do not want our Marble Arch site – or Oxford Street – to be left in limbo and decline further.”

Machin highlighted the success M&S’ revamped ‘renewal’ stores, which are trading 14% ahead of forecasts on average.
“At M&S we are clear that to deliver a more successful, growing and profitable business and keep employing c.65,000 people and serving 30m customers, we must invest in bricks & clicks. That’s why we are investing near half a billion pounds in stores across the country. We are also clear that to deliver a fairer, more prosperous, and successful country, we must level up and retail has a unique role to play.”

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