EXCLUSIVE: Marks and Spencer may have a plan for town centre building

Marks and Spencer External Corner

Following the news this morning that Bedford’s town centre Marks & Spencer may close, the retailer has now revealed it may already have a plan for the building they’ll soon be leaving.

Read: Bedford’s Town Centre Marks & Spencer will close on 4 May

Marks and Spencer has had a presence in Bedford for over 120 years. It was first situated in what is now the ‘Old Arcade’.

They moved to the current location on the corner of Midland Road and Harpur Street around 90 years ago.

With just eight years left on their lease, there are concerns that no one will invest in the building and it would lay empty.

But, this morning, Marks and Spencer have now hinted they may have a plan for the building.

In an exclusive statement to Bedford Independent, a spokesperson said: “We’re currently in conversations about the future of the building but can’t reveal anymore at this stage.

“We will notify Bedford’s community once we are able to do so.”

When pressed for more information they remained tight-lipped. But this news should not come as a total surprise.

Marks & Spencer announced they were closing 100 stores back in May 2018. Since then, competitors and other businesses would have shown interest in some of their locations.

They will no doubt have been in discussions with other businesses to negotiate a take-over of some of the shorter leases and it looks likely the Bedford store is one of them.

There could also be a building purchase in the mix. The Land Registry shows that the building is currently owned by ASDA Trustees Ltd, they manage the ASDA pension fund.

If they believe it’s beneficial to sell the building it could be purchased by another pension fund, a developer, or even, should they feel it necessary and funds were available, our Borough Council.

Read: Opinion: Beyond M&S – the future of Bedford’s town centre

For now though, our town centre, like many others up and down the UK, continues to face challenging times.

The Bedford Independent has asked Mayor Dave Hodgson, Bedford’s Conservative group, Mohammad Yasin MP and Bedford BID for comment.