Marks & Spencer is set to leave Blackburn town centre for a new state-of-the-art location on an out of town retail park being built by the Issa brothers.

M&S has announced it is planning on vacating its current site in the heart of the town centre in King William Street, where it has stood since the 1980s.

It is proposing to move to Frontier Park on the outskirts of Blackburn into a larger store which would feature a new food hall and wider range of products.

The planned date for the closure of the town centre store and move to Frontier Park is yet to be announced.

Councillor Phil Riley, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said while M&S moving was a blow for the town centre it has not come as a surprise.

He added that the council will be working hard to find a replacement for M&S when the time comes.

Built by Blackburn's billionaire Issa brothers, Frontier Park already is home to a Hampton by Hilton hotel, KFC, Starbucks, Cinnabon and petrol station, plus a number of other businesses in industrial units.

Proposals for the new store have been announced by the regional manager to make way for a new wider range of products.

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Ben Heaps, regional manager for M&S, said: “We’re excited to announce our proposals to open a brand-new M&S Foodhall in Blackburn at Frontier Park retail park, which would offer local customers a much wider range of M&S Food products.

"The new fresh market-style Foodhall would offer shoppers a range of new features including displays of great quality, trusted value produce from M&S Select Farms, and a show-stopping new M&S Bakery offering fresh daily-baked breads and pastries.

“With the lease on our current Blackburn store expiring in the next few years, we have been looking for a new local location with the right space to offer shoppers the very best of M&S.

"In line with the proposed opening, our existing Blackburn store would close once the development is completed."

Mr Heaps said jobs would not be threatened at the current store, as staff would be able to transfer to the new Frontier Park shop.

He continued: “As the new Foodhall would be more than double the size of our current food offer in Blackburn, there will be opportunities for all colleagues working in our current store to move to work in the new store or other stores in the local area.  

“These plans are part of our store estate rotation and investment programme – shopping habits are changing and we’re rotating our store estate to make sure we have the right stores, in the right place, with the right space to offer our customers a brilliant shopping experience.

“We’re looking forward to working with the site developer as they continue to progress their planning application to bring forward this exciting new development and we will keep the local community updated as our plans progress.” 

Cllr Phil Riley, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: "Marks & Spencer have been such a brilliant part of Blackburn town centre for as long as people can remember.

"Sadly, changes to how retail operates is something that we have to accept.

"This is not a surprise as we knew it was under discussion at senior levels in Marks & Spencer, but we’ve always hoped for the best about keeping a large store - and I know the Blackburn team did too.

"I’m pleased there will be other opportunities for staff to relocate and that people in Blackburn and surrounding areas will have a new store.

"The building currently occupied by Marks & Spencer is privately owned though we will be doing everything possible to make sure that the space is used for something people can enjoy when the time comes for the store to relocate in a couple of years’ time."