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Businesses fear departure of Holloway Road M&S will hit trade

‘I don’t think we’ve got much longer,’ says hairdresser, but Town Hall backs ‘vibrant’ Nag’s Head

01 June, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Staff at Sarc Unisex Hairdressing, where director Andy Economou (far left) says the closure of M&S ‘is a crying shame’

BUSINESSES near the Marks & Spencer store earmarked for closure in Holloway Road fear for their own future when it shuts up shop.

The high street firm announced last week it would be closing the prominent branch at the Nag’s Head, which sells food and clothes, early next year as it opens a new foodhall in Archway.

The Town Hall and MP Jeremy Corbyn are requesting an urgent meeting with M&S bosses to ask for an explanation for the closure decision and to urge them to reconsider.

Andy Economou, director of Sarc Unisex Hairdressing, has seen a decline in business over the last six years, and fears further blows after the store leaves.

The 37-year-old said: “I do not think we’ve got much longer after M&S goes. We’ve been worried for six years and now it’s come to this point.

The Marks & Spencer store in Holloway Road

“It’s a crying shame they are leaving. Holloway Road, with the utmost respect, has turned into a bit of nothing. Really, the only thing we have is Selbys [department store] and Marks & Spencer for presents and anything else.

“It feels as though Archway has got this new regeneration and Holloway Road seems to be forgotten about. It would be nice for us to start having some of the high street shops back.”

 

Kirana Dodhia, owner of Holloway Stationers and Bookshop, said: “We’ve got a problem with companies moving from the area. I’m concerned for the business of my shop quite a bit. I’m worried about the lack of footfall as I’m on the opposite side of the street, where there is already less footfall, but it’s going to affect us much more.”

David Gibson, chairman of the Islington Society, said he thought the Nag’s Head was moving away from being a “properly designated town centre”.

Councillor Asima Shaikh, Town Hall chief for economic development, said that research shows the Nag’s Head area is still a “healthy and vibrant” retail high street.

She added: “This decision by M&S is to do with M&S and not to do with Holloway Road. For example, B&Q have moved in, Iceland have renovated their shop. It is a vibrant and healthy retail high street.

“The town centre team have been keeping a watchful eye and working with businesses and we have looked at the projects the businesses want there. We all love Marks & Spencer. It’s really disappointing they are going. We are going to find out the reasons why and try and convince them to stay.”

Ada Okechukwu, chairwoman of the Nag’s Head Town Centre Group, said previously that she was “concerned” at the closure, but added that the Nag’s Head was “resilient” and would continue to offer a “good mix of local shops and services”.

The national retailer said shutting 14 of its stores would be “vital” for its streamlining plans, which overall will see 100 branches close by 2022.

The Tribune’s request to interview a representative was declined by M&S, but Simon Lucas, head of region for central London at the firm, said in an earlier statement: “Deciding to close M&S Holloway Road was a difficult decision.

“I understand many of our loyal customers will be disappointed by this news.

“We have a wonderful team and I’m pleased they’ll be relocating to nearby stores, including the new Archway Foodhall when it opens in 2019.”

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