Knaresborough is set to get an M&S Simply Food after the retailer this week confirmed plans to open on the St James Retail Park.
Marks & Spencer plans to open in the Barker and Stonehouse outlet shop, which will in turn move to Clifton Moor in York.
An M&S spokesperson said: “We can confirm that it is our intention to open a Simply Food store in Knaresborough in the summer.”
Knaresborough’s Mayor, Coun Tony Handley, said he thought the new store would prove popular.
He said: “I will be happy when it opens its doors. The rumours about an M&S in Knaresborough have been around for a long, long time.”
Barker and Stonehouse will retain their main store, which opened in 2012 at a cost of £4million.
The 35,000ft sq building sits on the edge of the retail park and is said to be the most energy-efficient store in Knaresborough.
The outlet store will move to Clifton Moor and the shop is preparing for a huge sale starting this Saturday, January 24, to clear half a million pounds’ worth of stock.
A retail study by Harrogate Borough Council found last year that Knaresborough needed a ‘medium-sized foodstore’ to keep spending in the town.
The report found that nearly 90 per cent of town residents travel as far away as Boroughbridge and Harrogate to do their food shopping and just 14 per cent of Knaresborough’s money is spent in the town.
Coun Handley said: “One thing that has changed since that study is that we now have a greengrocers on the High Street, which seems very busy.”
Coun David Goode (Lib Dem), councillor for the King James ward, which covers the retail park, said he was worried that M&S would have a negative impact on the High Street.
He said: “When planning permission was originally given for King James there was an understanding that food retail would not be part of the business mix on this site.
“This was due to concerns about the damage this would do to local food businesses in Knaresborough town centre.
“My view is that the situation has not changed in the intervening years.
“It is a continuing struggle to maintain a thriving food retail outlet in our town centre. Another major food outlet on the peripheries of our town could significantly damage town centre food outlets.”
The chairman of the Knaresborough Chamber of Trade was unavailible to comment.
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