Rochdale Riverside is expected to open its doors in April 2020

Council demands M&S ‘fulfil legal obligation’ to Rochdale Riverside

Marks & Spencer has announced it will not be relocating to the £100m Rochdale Riverside retail development, prompting Rochdale Council to warn it could take legal action.

M&S signed up as one of the anchor tenants in the scheme in 2015, and was due to move out of its Yorkshire Street branch in the town and relocate to a new 50,000 sq ft store.

However, the retailer has said it would now not be taking up the space, and would continue to operate its Yorkshire Street store.

This prompted an angry reaction from Rochdale Council chief executive Steve Rumbelow, who said: “As far as the council is concerned Marks & Spencer has a legally-binding agreement to take space in Rochdale Riverside.

“They negotiated a deal as a key anchor tenant and committed to it knowingly and willingly.

“On that basis, Marks & Spencer should be under no illusion that we expect them to fulfil their legal obligation to Rochdale and the new retail scheme.”

Alongside M&S, Next and Reel Cinemas are also signed up as tenants for Rochdale Riverside, which will include 24 retail and leisure units, 350 parking spaces, and a six-screen cinema over 200,000 sq ft.

Plans for the retail-led first phase, which has been designed by TP Bennett with Arcadis as project manager, were approved in April this year. DPP acted as planner.

A second phase, including a 120-bed hotel, offices, commercial space, and a maximum of 100 residential units, was given outline planning approval.

Genr8 is the developer, and has been contacted for comment.

A spokesperson for Marks & Spencer said: “We’re adapting to changing customer habits and this means taking some tough decisions – we’re investing in new stores, relocating stores and, in some cases, closing stores.

“In this case, we don’t believe relocating the store is the right move and have therefore informed the council that we no longer intend to proceed.

“Instead our intention is to continue to serve customers in Rochdale from our Yorkshire Street store and from M&”

It is the third store in the North West that M&S has pulled out of in the last 12 months. M&S was accused of “messing about” by Chorley Council leader Alistair Bradley earlier this month, after it was reported the retailer would not be opening a new Simply Food store in the town.

This followed a 5.3% drop in M&S’s pre-tax profit in its half-year results for 2017, when it also announced it would cut capital expenditure to between £300m and £350m, down from previous guidance of £400m.

M&S also pulled out of Oldham’s Prince’s Gate scheme last year, where it was due to be anchor tenant on a clothing, home and food store. The retailer said it would not be taking up the space in November 2016, having signed an agreement with Oldham Council in late 2014.

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Did they have it in writing, a firm signed contract?

By Digglgate

Andy Burnham has his work cut out if he is to turn these desperate old milltowns around. last month Bolton was depicted in the Guardian as a lost cause. Marks and Spencers pulled out of Oldham too and now Rochdale. There is talk that they are pulling out of Bolton soon. There is no point in having Central Manchester looking like Manhattan,if everywhere else is on life support. Worrying times for these great towns,being left to rot by Westminster and now it seems by everyone else.

By Elephant

People are snobs nowadays, they don’t want to go to places like Rochdale and Stockport, that includes people who live in the suburbs of these towns.

By Mos

My two closest friends and I grew up in Rochdale and we could not get out quick enough. We all live between Tottington and Ramsbottom in Bury now. The town centre is not a friendly place to go and much more than a new shopping and leisure centres needed to solve its problems.

The Riverside project is a start but the town needs jobs, investment and better schools. Then and only then will things start to get better there

By Mis-Manager

This is a ‘negative’ marketing ploy by M&S. They should be reprimanded.

By A Cynical

The dine in for £10 deal they do is still top nosh….bravo M&S

By T. Hastings Jnr

Does this now sad town really need such a development anyway when it will only be surrounded by sad, empty, rundown and rotting properties? Or is it supposed to attract new businesses to the surrounding streets too? I don’t blame M&S for pulling out. Hopefully they WILL stay in the Yorkshire St premises as they’re almost the only ‘High Street’ name left in Rochdale town centre these days!