Former Debenham SouthGate site to become home for new £17m M&S flagship store in Bath

July 4, 2024

Retail giant Marks & Spencer is to relocate its Bath store to a new flagship site in SouthGate in a move it said would guarantee a future for the iconic M&S brand in the city.

The retailer is to move into the 122,000 sq ft former Debenhams store, pictured, from its current home on nearby Stall Street, which it has occupied since the 1960s. 

M&S has not given a timescale for the relocation but said it was a £17m investment, allowing it to offer “the very best shopping experience for its customers” as well as keeping the brand in the city.

The move is part of the retailer’s store rotation strategy, which it said aimed to make sure it had the right stores in the right place and with the right space “to offer a brilliant shopping experience for customers”.

The new Bath store, which will have 83,000 sq ft of trading space, including a food hall and extensive clothing and beauty departments, will be one of four new full-line outlets and nine new foodhalls planned for across the UK in the current financial year. 

Staff in Stall Street will be given the opportunity to relocate to the new store. M&S said Stall Street would continue trading until the SouthGate store is ready to open. 

SouthGate joint owners British Land and Aviva Investors said M&S’s move to the former Debenhams store on Southgate Place, which closed in 2021, along with recent deals with Zara, which is now occupying a nearby 32,000 sq ft unit, cosmetics outlet Rituals and Sunglass Hut – which have taken 1,200 sq ft and 1,042 sq ft respectively, means the 15-year-old centre is now fully let. 

M&S’s announcement concerning its new Bath store – along with a new site in Bristol – was made by M&S CEO Stuart Machin at the firm’s AGM in response to a shareholder question.

Mr Machin said: “We want to offer the best possible shopping experience for customers every single time they shop with us.

“This new £17m investment in a flagship Bath store means we can deliver on that promise and secure M&S’ future in the city. 

“Our store rotation strategy is all about making sure we can showcase the very best of M&S – and that touch of M&S magic – from stores which excite and inspire.

“We’ve seen great results so far where we have relocated stores, in city centres like Liverpool and Birmingham, helping us to attract new customers and giving us the confidence to go faster with the strategy.” 

M&S property director Will Smith added: “Our customers want to shop in modern stores, with the right space in the right locations and with strong parking and public transport options. The Bath City centre site provides all of this.”

Aviva Investors head of regional investment management Julian Cobourne said: “We are incredibly pleased to welcome a brand such as Marks & Spencer to SouthGate as well as having reached the point of full-occupancy.

“Bath remains a thriving destination and it is great to see this continuing to be reflected in the quality of companies represented across the scheme.”

M&S currently has nearly 50 stores across the South West, employing 4,000-plus staff and working with more than 1,100 farmers in the region.

The firm said it had invested around £6m in its South West stores over the past three years.    

It will now work with Bath & North East Somerset Council on the future of the Stall Street site.

In a statement, the council said: “We welcome this continued investment in our vibrant city which has a fantastic retail offer.

“The great location of Bath and proximity of a number of tourist attractions has seen strong demand from a mix of retailers coming out of the pandemic and the council is committed to supporting them.

“We look forward to working with M&S on the future of the current store in Stall Street.”        


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