WATCH: M&S shoppers cut up loyalty cards as closure looms
PUBLISHED: 14:22 27 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:22 27 April 2019
Angry Marks and Spencer customers made a last-ditch attempt to save its Felixstowe branch from closure this morning - by cutting up their loyalty cards.
Shoppers were outside the store in Hamilton Road early on Saturday morning armed with banners emblazoned with slogans such as 'Knickers to Marks and Spencer'.
Camnpaigners were also urging people to make a stand with boxes saying 'Cut Your Card'.
The branch – thought to be the smallest M&S high street store in the country – is one of 60 facing the axe across the UK.
More than 8,000 people signed a petition urging the retailer to stay in Felixstowe, where it has been based for 80 years.
However, the store is closing its doors for good today – and campaigners are staging one last protest against the decision.
“We were a bit low on numbers for the protest and I think that was mainly because of the weather, it was very windy and rainy,” said campaigner Roy Gray.
“But a lot of people came up to talk to us and there was a feeling of sadness.
“We felt upset for the staff, there was one lady we spoke to who has worked there for 32 years. I think they changed their rota so a lot of them were there together for the last day.
“People were saying to us they don't know what's going to happen to Felixstowe, with M&S going there aren't too many food shops left at all.
He added: “With Debenhams and others suffering as well it's a real shame.
“There are lots of older people in Felixstowe and they go in every day to get their shopping, so it'll be a big change for them.”
Shoppers now face a 20-mile round trip to Martlesham if they want M&S food – despite there being renewed hopes last month when the retailer said it would be focussing on food halls.
WATCH: What will the closure of M&S in Felixstowe mean for the town?
M&S boss David Leach penned a letter to campaigners giving reasons for the closure earlier this year.
“We recognise that you will be very disappointed by the store closure, but we are convinced it is the right commercial decision for M&S for the reasons we have previously explained,” he wrote.
The debate over the store's future even made it to the House of Commons, where a meeting was held and a frank exchange of views was made.
Felixstowe mayor Graham Newman said afterwards: “We stressed the convenience of access to the store, the free and inexpensive nearby parking facilities, and how Felixstowe is growing with new homes and much improved tourist attractions.
“We asked whether a food-only outlet had been considered, bearing in mind this was easily the most popular feature of the store, although it currently occupied less than two thirds of the available floor area.”
However, the meeting was told M&S felt it was essential its shops were alongside other major outlets which would attract customers.