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M&S CEO says Marble Arch store retrofit is "unworkable"

Tom Shearsmith
18 January 2023

Marks & Spencer CEO Stuart Machin has said that the redevelopment of its Marble Arch store is the right solution, claiming that the current building is “riddled with asbestos”.

Whilst speaking about M&S's new "bigger, better" stores plan, Machin said that "retrofit of buildings is always our first port of call. For Marble Arch we undertook a full assessment of the alternatives, looking at sixteen, but concluded retrofit was unworkable for this flagship site."

Marks & Spencer previously submitted a proposal to demolish the store and covert it into a model multi-use site which will incorporate offices and leisure facilities, as well as retail space.

The current site reportedly delivers such poor sustainability performance that it requires significant and unsustainable investment to keep running. Machin added "If we leave M&S Marble Arch to continue trading as it is, the building’s energy efficiency – which is unfortunately already very poor – will only continue to deteriorate. We believe that delivery of more sustainable buildings must be approached on a case-by case, holistic basis, taking into account its Whole Life Carbon."

Marks & Spencer // M&S Marble Arch redevelopment new stores

Marks & Spencer // M&S Marble Arch redevelopment concept art plans

Campaigners argue that the existing building should be repurposed. High profile names to oppose M&S's plans include author Bill Bryson, Stirling prize winner Steve Tompkins, and Mark Hines, the project director for the remodelling of BBC Broadcasting House.

Machin concluded: "The question I pose in closing is that if M&S cannot make retrofit work at Marble Arch – and we know we cannot - then who can? I do not want our Marble Arch site – or Oxford Street – to be left in limbo and decline further; I want our site to be a flagbearer for modern, sustainable redevelopment and breathe life back into a much loved – and needed – part of our Capital city. In the same way that we are investing to breathe life back into stores across the country."

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