Marks and Spencer has 'gone back on its word' after announcing the Warwick Simple Food store would be closing, said the town's chamber of trade.
The business announced that it will be taking over the former Debenhams site at the Leamington Shopping Park to provide both 'a full line' store, which includes clothing and home wares, as well as a new foodhall.
In March 2019 the plans for an M&S Foodhall with a café and two smaller non-food shops for the vacant site between Debenhams and New Look at the Leamington Shopping Park were granted planning permission after an appeal.
M&S also announced that along with the opening of the new store and the Foodhall that site it has inside the Royal Priors Shopping Centre in Leamington and the site it has in Westgate House in Warwick will close - with all staff set to relocate to the new stores.
This news has been met with much criticism - including from residents, Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western - who has set up a petition - Warwick Chamber of Trade and Warwick Town Council.
Warwick Chamber of Trade has said it is disappointed with M&S saying it has gone back on its word.
This view stems from a public consultation/information leaflet that was sent out in 2017 ahead of plans for the new Foodhall which said: "The M&S Foodhall would be in addition to the Leamington Spa town centre stores and the Warwick town centre Foodhall, which would not be affected by the proposed new store."
Sue Butcher, chair of Warwick Chamber of Trade, said: "Warwick Chamber of Trade is extremely disturbed to hear of the imminent closure of this busy food store which is an integral and valuable part of town centre.
"The central location is highly sustainable with many customers walking or cycling whereas the proposed store at the retail park is only accessible by car with the ensuing impact on the environment.
"When a pre-application submission to Warwick District Council, for a store on the retail park, was first made in 2017 it was affirmed that the 'Warwick Town Centre food store
would not be affected by the proposed new store'.
"It is very disappointing that M&S have gone back on their word and shown a complete disregard and lack of commitment to town centres.
"We hope that they will reconsider their decision."
The town council was also concerned by this news and the impact the closure could have on the town.
A spokesperson from Warwick Town Council said: "This morning Warwick Town Council has written to Marks and Spencer regarding the closure of the Simply M&S store based in the town centre.
"The town council considers this store to be a valuable asset to the town which compliments the host of independent stores, and is located within a highly sustainable location next to the bus station, accessible for many residents and visitors alike.
"As a town council we have previously received communications from Marks and Spencer that the new store would be additional to the existing stock.
"Whilst we wholly appreciate that the pandemic has resulted in challenging times for retail, the town council has sought to work with partners and stakeholders to ensure the town remains vibrant.
"We will continue to take this positive 'can do' approach and very much hope that Marks and Spencer will respond positively."
An M&S spokesperson said: “We are excited to be investing in the local area with our brand new, larger M&S store which will offer customers a much wider range of M&S product across our food and clothing and home departments and create more local jobs.
"We appreciate that the closure of our Warwick Simply Food store will be disappointing news for some, but we believe this is the right decision to ensure we can make the necessary investment in a store for the local area that is fit for the future.”