Will Marshalswick Marks & Spencer Foodhall go ahead after all?

PUBLISHED: 15:25 17 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:41 19 January 2018

The site of the new Marks and Spencers underneath the new build in Marshalswick. Picture: Danny Loo

The site of the new Marks and Spencers underneath the new build in Marshalswick. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

A decision has been made on a long-awaited Marks & Spencer in Marshalswick.

The site of the new Marks and Spencers underneath the new build in Marshalswick. Picture: Danny LooThe site of the new Marks and Spencers underneath the new build in Marshalswick. Picture: Danny Loo

In 2015 St Albans district council (SADC) controversially gave permission for The Baton pub to be demolished and replaced with flats and an M&S Foodhall.

When construction finished and the chain did not set up shop, rumours circulated about the fate of the space, which is near The Quadrant shopping arcade.

Someone even pranked residents by sticking up a fake McDonald’s sign in the window, eliciting an angry response from Facebook commenters.

Then in November 2017, after releasing its half year financial results, M&S announced that only the highest profit food shops would stay open.

Chief executive of M&S, Steve Rowe, explained that customers were becoming more value savvy: “We have already sharpened prices in core categories and will be taking further steps to bring out value in our ranges.

“We will increase the pace of relevant innovation, step change our availability and ranging, and continue to develop our Foodhall proposition.”

At the time, the chain refused to verify whether the Marshalswick project would be abandoned and many local residents believed it was being discarded in the reshuffle.

South Herts CAMRA said: “Talk about adding insult to injury - Marks & Spencer bulldoze a community pub to replace it with a shop, then change their mind.

“Too late for the Marshalswick residents who didn’t want to lose their only pub in the first place though.”

Tiffany Megan said: “To be honest I guess The Quadrant doesn’t need three supermarkets.”

Sue Darby said: “From what I hear M&S is a definite no.”

However, the company has now confirmed that The Baton store will go ahead after all, and open in either March or April.

An M&S spokesperson said: “Plans for our new St Albans Marshalswick Foodhall are progressing well and we will update the community with our opening date as soon as we can.

“We remain committed to bringing the very best of M&S to St Albans.”

M&S has faced a tumultuous few years, with 30 UK store closures and a five year slump in their clothing line. There are 14 flats above retail space, owned by one land-lord from the South East, up for rent.

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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