Edinburgh M&S: Ocean Terminal Marks and Spencer closure sees disabled resident urge bosses to reconsider
A disabled man who says Marks & Spencer at Ocean Terminal is his shopping ‘lifeline’ has urged bosses to save the store from closure.
The Simply Food shop on the first floor of the 20-year-old Ocean Terminal shopping centre will shut down with the company citing “changing” shopping habits as the reason behind the decision.
A spokesperson for Ocean Terminal said they are ‘actively pursuing’ other potential food retailers for the M&S unit.
But local resident and campaigner Hugh Munro has called on M&S chiefs to keep the store at the complex open, warning that it will be a devastating loss to shoppers at the complex, particularly those with mobility issues.
Plans were approved on Wednesday, September 22 to bulldoze a northern section of the centre on Ocean Drive to make way for a hotel, shops, restaurants and a mix of leisure, retail and business uses.
Owners Ambassador Group said the complex requires ‘significant changes’ to keep up with rapidly shifting retail environment.
The closure of M&S has been branded as the “death knell” for the centre by MSP Foysol Choudhury.
Mr Munro, who currently uses the centre, regularly says he can park very close to the M&S store entrance and get around on a mobility scooter provided by the centre for free; a service he says isn’t available at other M&S outlets across the city.
"For me it is a lifeline,” he said. “Since the centre opened, disability scooters have been on hand to use for a whole day free of charge. No other M&S outlet has that facility in the city. It means independence and freedom for me.
"The nearest option outside my local area would be Craigleith but I'd be lucky to find a space within 20 metres of the entrance then I have to plead with management for someone to take me around in a rickety wheelchair. Then I have to hold a basket in my lap. It’s humiliating.”
Mr Munro added that lunchtime trade could be down temporarily at M&S while Scottish Government staff are still mainly working from home – but he believes the revamped centre will still be a major shopping destination in future.
“I am concerned that with the new tram lines, new build houses on the go and the plans just approved by the council taking away M&S is reducing what’s on offer here.
“Leith, like everywhere else in Edinburgh, deserves a quality food store. In other parts of Edinburgh there are eight outlets. Let's have a level playing field.
“Many staff have been there since the start and built the business up to a successful busy outlet – as it still is today. Visitors to Brittania were and still are regular shoppers.
"When Government workers are back at their desks they will be out getting lunch and M&S is the place for that. I think closing this valued, popular shop is extremely short-sighted.”
The 'redundant' multi-storey car park at the opposite end of the centre to M&S will be demolished along with the closed-down Debenhams store as part of the major redevelopment of the shopping centre.
It's not yet known which businesses will move in once work is complete, but plans state that ground floor units will comprise units for shops, 'financial, professional and other services, food and drink or business use.
A spokesperson for Ocean Terminal said: "There remains buoyant demand to have a really strong food retail offering at Ocean Terminal for the local community. We have been in discussion with leading supermarket brands to ensure that the right offering is put in place in an expanded space moving forward.
"Accessibility for all customers is something that Ocean Terminal has always been valued for. Going forward we remain focussed on continuing to go the extra mile for people with additional mobility needs."