Retail giant Marks and Spencer have revealed plans to close their Wigan store and relocate outside of the town centre.
The popular high street store has confirmed that it is planning to shut down the Standishgate branch and re-open as a food-only store on Robin Retail Park.
News of the closure comes just three months after the retailer flatly denied rumours that it was going to close its town centre operation.
Earlier this year, the Wigan branch escaped the axe after the firm announced plans to close more than 100 sites by 2022, putting thousands of jobs at risk.
Neither Wigan’s nor Leigh’s branches was among the list of intended closures.
But now the company has revealed its intentions to go ahead with the hotly debated proposals.
A spokesperson for M&S said: “Shopping habits are changing so it’s vital we adapt our store estate to best serve our customers.
“As part of this we’re proposing to relocate our store in the town centre to the Robin Retail Park and we’re exploring options for a new Foodhall that would offer Click & Collect.
“We’ll keep the community updated as plans progress.”
The retailer, which is famed for its luxury food offering, is not the first to have left the town centre for pastures new.
Earlier this year TK Maxx closed its doors in the Grand Arcade, reopening shortly after at the Robin Park retail complex.
Becca Heron, director of economy and skills at Wigan Council, said: “All town centres are currently facing significant challenges as shopping habits change and although it’s disappointing to lose a retailer from the town centre we know they also need to adapt to these changes.
“Through our Wigan Town Centre Masterplan we are working to bring a more diverse leisure, food and drink and residential offer into the centre alongside retail.
“There is significant investment being ploughed into the town centre to ensure it is a vibrant and prosperous place to live and visit in the future and our recent purchase of The Galleries shows our commitment to this regeneration.”
The move to close 100 stores is part of a five-year turnaround plan spearheaded by chairman Archie Norman and chief executive Steve Rowe.
They have been seeking to save costs through store closures and shutting distribution centres as part of a wide-ranging efficiency drive as the company’s financial performance deteriorates.
A Wigan shopper, who wished to remain anonymous said: “I feel so sorry for all those people that come into Wigan town centre to go to the store.
“Morrisons have gone, now M&S are going. I wonder what the council is doing to try to get people to stay.”
News of the M&S closure is yet another blow to both retailers and shoppers in Wigan town centre, which has been affected by the shift from high street shopping to online buying.
In the past few years the dwindling centre has seen multiple store closures including British Home Stores, which went under in 2016, Jessops, which also went bust and KFC, which moved from Standishgate to Robin Park.