£21m flagship store in Cabot Circus lined up by Marks & Spencer as it prepares to move back to city centre

July 5, 2024

Retail giant Marks & Spencer is to return to Bristol city centre two-and-a-half years after closing its store in Broadmead.

The group is to open a flagship store in the Cabot Circus shopping mall, taking over the three-floor 80,000 sq ft House of Fraser anchor unit, which will close next month. 

M&S said it is investing £21m in the new outlet, which will create around 150 jobs and will include a food hall and extensive clothing and beauty departments.

Work is already underway to transform into a new-look M&S store. The iconic retailer had been a fixture in Broadmead since the centre was built in 1952 but the store fell victim to the axe in January 2022 when a number of sites were closed around the country to cut costs.

The new store will be one of four new full-line outlets and nine new food halls planned for across the UK in the current financial year.

The move is part of the retailer’s store rotation strategy, which it said aimed to make sure it had the right stores in the right place and with the right space “to offer a brilliant shopping experience for customers”.

It also has food halls on Bristol’s Avonmeads, Eastgate and Imperial Park out-of-town retail parks and on Whiteladies Road as well as stores at Cribbs Causeway and Longwell Green.

M&S’s announcement concerning its new Cabot Circus store – along with a new site in Bath – was made by M&S CEO Stuart Machin at the firm’s AGM in response to a shareholder question.

Mr Machin said: “It’s brilliant to be announcing our return to Bristol city centre.

“At Cabot Circus we’re able to create a flagship store which delivers the best possible shopping experience for customers and showcases the very best of M&S.

“Our store rotation programme is all about ensuring we have the right stores in the right place and with the right space to excite and inspire our customers, including in city centres.

“This £21m investment will allow us to do just that while expanding our footprint across the South West.”

Cabot Circus co-owner, retail property giant Hammerson, welcomed M&S’s announcement, which follows the arrival a number of new occupiers earlier this year.

CEO Rita-Rose Gagné said, “We are delighted to continue expanding our partnership with M&S in Cabot Circus, having seen the positive impact of their presence across our other destinations.

“M&S is a brand that resonates with our core catchment areas and this new store will support our strategy to create a leading destination, thriving at the heart of Bristol city centre.”

The move was also welcomed by Bristol City Council, with leader Tony Dyer saying M&S’s decision to take on a larger and very prominent site at the heart of the city’s retail centre was a strong vote of confidence in the local economy.

“In recent years the city centre retail sector has had to adapt to meet various challenges, but we are now seeing evident progress being made to return the sector to growth and the strengthening of the local offer.

“This is progress we wish to build upon and will continue to do so by working in partnership with local business leaders, community groups, our regional partners and others in the sector.”

M&S  has nearly 50 stores across the South West, employing 4,000-plus staff and working with more than 1,100 farmers in the region.

The firm said it had invested around £6m in its South West stores over the past three years.

Bristol’s city centre retail offering has faced numerous challenges in recent years linked mostly to changes in shopping habits and cutbacks in household spending amid the cost of living crisis.

The Debenhams department store on The Horsefair close by M&S’s Broadmead outlet put up the shutters three years ago while Cabot Circus’s Showcase cinema closed last November.

However, in February Hammerson said deals to bring retail brands Stradivarius, Lids, Sunnamusk and German Doner Kebab to Cabot Circus was helping to reposition the 16-year-old, 130-unit centre.

Meanwhile plans have been drawn up to replace the 70-store Galleries shopping centre next to Broadmead, which opened in 1991, with several hundred flats, offices and a hotel as well as new retail units in a move described as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a world-class, sustainable, vibrant destination”.

Comments are closed.


Reach tens of thousands of senior business people across Bristol for just £120 a month. Email info@bristol-business.net for more information.