Marks and Spencer is resigning from its most important and most prominent store, on London’s Oxford Street. This was after the council chiefs approved the demolition of the 91 year-old building.

Recognized retailer, the company has received the green light to destroy the three buildings which house its landmark London flagship store. 

The 1930s Art Deco-style Orchard House, which faces onto Oxford Street, will also be demolished.

In its place will be a modern 10-storey mixed-use building containing a new M&S store, along with cafe and restaurant areas, as well as prime office gym space and a new pedestrian arcade.

But while M&S bosses say the multi-million redevelopment will help maintain – and improve – its offering on Oxford Street despite the rapidly changing face of retail, critics have reacted with fury at the loss of one of the world famous street’s most iconic buildings. 

Other people have been swayed by the design and have labeled it ‘ugly’. Meanwhile, campaign groups like SAVE Britain’s Heritage have asked councillors, architects, and retail executives to reconsider their plans.

The M&S project, which is expected to be completed in 2027, is the latest, and perhaps most dramatic, redevelopment plan for Oxford Street.

This comes just a few months after IKEA gave the go-ahead to Topshop as a flat-pack furniture store. The John Lewis, House of Fraser, and Debenhams buildings will also be undergoing major renovations.

In its place will be a modern 10-storey mixed-use building (pictured: An artist's impression of the new site) containing a new M&S store, along with cafe and restaurant areas, as well as prime office gym space and a new pedestrian arcade.

After council chiefs granted Marks and Spencer permission to demolish the over 90-year-old building, Marks and Spencer said goodbye to the most important and prestigious of its stores – located on London’s Oxford Street. (pictured: Current site). Click right to view the plans. In its place will be a modern 10-storey mixed-use building containing a new M&S store, along with cafe and restaurant areas, as well as prime office gym space and a new pedestrian arcade.

It will also be demolished the Orchard House in Art Deco style from 1930 (pictured right: Current site). Swipe left to see the old site being redeveloped. It proudly looks out onto Oxford Street and Selfridges, its larger neighbour. The M&S project, which is expected to be completed in 2027, is the latest, and perhaps most dramatic, redevelopment plan for Oxford Street

Marks and Spencer will demolish Orchard House and the two buildings that were home to Spencer since 1930. This is to make room for a new, 10-storey building.

Orchard House: The story 

Best known as the home of Marks and Spencer’s flagship Oxford Street, Orchard House was built in 1930 by the construction firm Thomas & Edge.  

It was neither built for or intended to be used as a primary West End location.  

The original promoters of Orchard House were J. Lyons & Company, who built Orchard House through Maxwell & Ponting Ltd, a company they had lately acquired. 

Plans were first submitted in 1928 by architects Trehearne & Norman – then as a speculative design for a six-storey block of shops and offices.

This design featured the same orthodox stone-faced classicism as major London buildings. 

The sculptured heads adorning the keystones and balconies were based on A. T. Bradford’s characters in Alice through the Looking Glass and Alice in Wonderland. 

The majority of the originals have been removed. However, the White Knight is still visible above the Orchard Street corner window at the first floor, right below the projected clock. 

Construction of the store began in 1929 when Marks and Spencer sought to open a West End location.

On the opening day, the press noted that the decoration and lighting were ‘simple and artistic’, and ‘the display counters leave plenty of room to move about’. At the time the store employed 250 assistants and, after proving a success, bosses opened a cafe-bar and a larger sales floor.

The press noticed that lighting and decoration were simple and artistic on the store’s opening day. There was also plenty of space for people to walk around the display areas. Once the store was a hit, 250 people worked there. The bosses later opened a cafe and expanded the sales floor.

Simon Marks was the son founder Michael Marks and he wanted to open a shop on Oxford Street. In fact, he was so focused that he stated to investors that he would open a store at Oxford Street ‘even though it didn’t make a profit’. Instead of saying that it was “good advertising for the business”.

So the firm agreed to purchase the Orchard House’s bottom floors.

The press commented on the opening day that lighting and decoration were simple and artistic and there was plenty of space for people to move around. 

The store had 250 employees at the time. After proving successful, the bosses decided to open a cafe bar and larger sales floors.

In 1967, it was converted to a training center. Marks and Spencer then took control of the whole building.

In 1970 the building was expanded. This allowed sales to double and increased stock and employee quarters.

Marks and Spencer expanded to the west, settling at 466 Oxford Street in 1978. In 1994, they purchased the National Provincial Bank’s premises. 

The store’s sales area grew steadily to more than 174,000 feet after this expansion.

Source: UCL 

M&S will occupy just two and a half floors of the new building, rather than the five currently used. All other floors of the new building will be used by M&S offices and fitness centers. 

The plans, drawn up by architects Pilbrow & Partners, were approved on Tuesday night after a battle with campaigners to save the old building.

20th Century Society, an American charity, filed a request with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for the listing of the building.

But following advice given by Historic England, the Government rejected the application – ultimately sealing the fate of Orchard House.

The heritage agency said the building – erected in 1929–30 by Thomas & Edge Ltd to designs by Trehearne & Norman – was ‘not regarded as innovative nor of sufficient architectural quality’ to merit protection.   

However the move has angered campaign groups, including SAVE Britain’s Heritage – a group of journalists, historians, architects, and planners campaigning publicly for endangered historic buildings.

Executive director Marcus Binney told MailOnline: ‘This is a good quality building designed by an able architect which pays homage to its illustrious neighbour Selfridges and should stand for another hundred years. 

‘Turning it into rubble and rebuilding it make even more of a joke of Westminster’s carbon policies than their silly mound at Marble Arch.   

He added: ‘Stop facing both ways M&S on green issues, withdraw these plans and recognise that the public won’t have big corporations adopting double standards on this issue.’

The 20th Century Society, which campaigned to get the building listed, also expressed disappointment at the plans.

Director Catherine Croft told MailOnline: ‘I think it’s a real shame, not just because of the loss of this building but I think it will also change the experience of walking west up Oxford Street as well.’

On the new building, she noted that the design had similiarities to the soon-to-be demolished Orchard House.

‘I think if you are going to take down a building like this then you should do something different rather than just providing a newer version of something already there,’ Ms Croft added.

Meanwhile Create Streets, which was founded by Nicholas Boys Smith, head of the non-departmental Office for Place agency, slammed the new design.

He said Pilbrow & Partners’ new block was ‘ugly spreadsheet architecture,’ a ‘waste of embodied carbon’ and ‘barely bigger’ than the existing building.

But M&S chiefs today defended the plans. Sacha Berendji, Group Property, Store Development and IT Director told MailOnline: ‘M&S has a long history in Marble Arch, and so we are pleased to receive approval for redevelopment. 

‘This means we will be able to serve the communities of the west end of Oxford Street from a modernised store offering the best of our products and services, and establish a building which positively contributes to our net zero targets over the long term with strong sustainability credentials, which is another step forward in the transformation of our store estate to be fit for the future.’

Others meanwhile have questioned the environmental benefit of knocking down the old building in favour of a new building. 

According to Architects Journal, Geoff Barraclough, one councillor who voted against the scheme, told fellow committee members: ‘There is merit in Orchard House, particularly the way it sits with Selfridges, to be reflective or subservient to it. 

‘The new building is the reverse: its overbearing and overshadows Selfridges, and its very large.

Marks and Spencer's plan will see Orchard House and two other buildings - which have been home to the retailer since its construction in 1930 - completely demolished to make way for one new 10-storey building. Pictured: The Marks and Spencer building in Oxford Street in 1964

Marks and Spencer’s plan will see Orchard House and two other buildings – which have been home to the retailer since its construction in 1930 – completely demolished to make way for one new 10-storey building. Pictured: The Marks and Spencer building in Oxford Street in 1964

M&S chiefs say 90 per cent of materials from the old building will be recycled to develop the new building and that once complete the new site will be carbon positive - meaning it will actually take away carbon dioxide rather than produce it

M&S chiefs say 90 per cent of materials from the old building will be recycled to develop the new building and that once complete the new site will be carbon positive – meaning it will actually take away carbon dioxide rather than produce it

‘[There will be] 39,500 tonnes of carbon in the building of this new construction. Its great that there is some urban greening on it but, according to the applicant’s own report, those 39,500 tonnes of carbon would require 2.4 million trees to offset. You can’t get 2.4 million trees on top of the new building.

House of Fraser will shut its Oxford Street shop next year after both Topshop and Debenhams both closed flagship branches 

House of Fraser will shut its flagship Oxford Street shop permanently in January. 

The department store chain, which is owned by Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, will close the branch next year after being served notice.

The owner of 318 Oxford Street, Public Properties Establishment, has been given permission from Westminster Council for a £100million redevelopment that will include a gym and pool, shops, several floors of office space and a top floor restaurant with views across London.

In a statement, Frasers warned of more closures unless the Government’s business rates tax system is overhauled to support the UK high street.

House of Fraser is the third major UK retailer to close or downsize on Oxford Street in the past year amid the pandemic.

Debenhams shut after the chain went bust last year, and Frasers’s neighbour John Lewis is seeking to convert several floors into offices following a long-term hit to footfall. 

And last month, Ikea revealed it would take over the Topshop building on the Oxford Circus junction.

‘Just to put that 39,500 tonnes of carbon in context, last week the council announced that we are going to spend £17 million to retrofit all of our building to save 1,700 tonnes of carbon every year. And so this is 23 years of what we have just saved as a council, going into one building.’ 

M&S chiefs say 90 per cent of materials from the old building will be recycled to develop the new building and that once complete the new site will be carbon positive – meaning it will actually take away carbon dioxide rather than produce it. 

Bosses also say the building design has been been given an outstanding rating by the sustainability group BREEAM – the highest possible award.

The reason for demolishing the building meanwhile has been put down to the internal structure of the building, which has many pillars. 

These internal pillars make it difficult to bring the current interior up to the modern day design specifications for its shops, M&S chiefs say.

MailOnline contacted Pilbrow & Partners for a comment, but did not receive a request prior to publication. In a statement to Architects Journal, the firm said: ‘We looked carefully at the potential refurbishment of the three separate buildings on the site, unfortunately their configuration precluded delivering the quality of retail space required by M&S. 

‘Westminster City Council have recognised the need for significant investment and regeneration on Oxford Street if it is to remain a successful retail centre in the face of unprecedented technological change (not to mention the pandemic). 

‘Our scheme reconceives Granville Place as an attractive pedestrian destination – a St Christopher’s Place West.

‘We create a new east-west link between Orchard Street and Granville Place with a new public arcade and offer further permeability north-south through the new M&S unit. Both routes converge on a garden animated by a café.’

Meanwhile,Westminster City Council Chairman of Planning, Robert Rigby, said: ‘Our planning policies now reflect our strong commitment to sustainability and the emphasis on refurbishment wherever possible rather than demolition. 

‘However we recognise that this will not be possible in all cases in order to ensure buildings meet the needs of the City.

‘The proposed building remains in keeping with the surrounding area and its heritage. The council is committed to transforming the Oxford Street District, and the new M&S store will play an important role in ensuing Oxford Street remains a vibrant attraction for shoppers.’

The 20th Century Society - a British charity which campaigns for the preservation of architectural heritage from 1914 onwards - had lodged an application with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to get the building listed. But following advice given by Historic England, the Government rejected the application - ultimately sealing the fate of Orchard House. Pictured: A view showing the Coronation decorations on Oxford Street, London, 21st May 1953

The 20th Century Society – a British charity which campaigns for the preservation of architectural heritage from 1914 onwards – had lodged an application with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to get the building listed. Historic England advised the Government to reject the application, sealing Orchard House’s fate. Pictured: A view showing the Coronation decorations on Oxford Street, London, 21st May 1953

It comes as House of Fraser earlier this month announced it will shut its flagship Oxford Street shop permanently in January. 

After being given notice, the department store chain owned by Mike Ashley, founder of Sports Direct, has decided to close its branch.

The owner of 318 Oxford Street, Public Properties Establishment, has been given permission from Westminster Council for a £100million redevelopment that will include a gym and pool, shops, several floors of office space and a top floor restaurant with views across London.

Frasers made a statement warning of further closures without the Government overhauling its business rates tax system in order to support the UK’s top street.

House of Fraser is the third major UK retailer to close or downsize on Oxford Street in the past year amid the pandemic.

Debenhams was closed last year after it went bankrupt. Owners of the building AHMM have since launched a consultation on proposals to refurbish Debenhams’ former flagship store on Oxford Street and transform it into a new retail and office scheme.

334 Ramsbury Oxford Limited, developer is proposing to keep the building at 334 Oxford Street and add new façades as well as three storeys on the upper floors with terraces. 

People wearing facemasks outside House of Fraser on Oxford Street in London

Facemasks worn by people outside House of Fraser, Oxford Street in London

The department store chain, which is owned by Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley (pictured left), will close the branch next year after being served notice

Following being served notice, Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley will shut down the store.

House of Fraser is a UK retailer with a rich history

House of Fraser was established in Glasgow in 1849 as Arthur and Fraser, and rebranded Fraser & Sons in 1891.

In the first 20th Century, the company was steadily growing and became a national chain in post-second world war. 

Starting in 1936 the company expanded substantially through acquisitions, including Scottish Drapery Corporation, Binns, Barkers of Kensington, and Dickins & Jones and the Harrods group. 

It first appeared on the London Stock exchange, in 1948. 

In 1985, ownership of the group passed to the Al Fayed family for a reported £615million.

It was finally listed on the FTSE Index ten years later as House of Fraser plc, Harrods’ move into private ownership.

In 2001, the former Harrod Group store DH Evans at Oxford Street was rebranded to House of Fraser and made it the flagship store of the chain.

During the 2000s and 2010s, the group made a number of acquisitions and was sold to Nanjing Xinjiekou Department Store Company, a leading chain of Chinese department stores, for a reported £450million in 2014. 

The group entered administration in 2018 and was bought by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct chain for £90million. 

Ashley’s Frasers Group declared in November 2021 that its Oxford Store branch would be closing permanently. This was effective January 2022.  

318 Oxford Street was originally occupied by department store DH Evans, which merged with House of Fraser. House of Fraser occupies the building since 2000.

Frasers bought House of Fraser for £90million in 2018 after it went into administration, but the store has struggled since. The August number of House of Fraser shops was 43, as opposed to the 48 that were there last year.   

A Frasers spokesman said: ‘It is with regret that we have been served notice by the landlord to close House of Fraser, Oxford Street – following granted planning permission to redevelop the site.

“We’d like to express our gratitude to all of our employees for their dedication and hard work.”

The spokesman added: ‘Since acquiring in 2018, despite challenges faced, we have worked collaboratively with the landlord to keep the store trading 3 years longer than what was initially proposed by the previous owner.’

Frasers also attacked the Government’s business rate system. It is a tax on commercial buildings that retailers claim puts them in a competitive position with online counterparts.

Also, retailers claim that building values are not being reviewed quickly enough and they have to pay unrealistic prices. 

The statement stated that ‘As an investment business continuing to make significant investments in the British high streets, it is only fair to recognize and ask for an urgent review on the current archaic rates of business which remain astonishingly outdated’.

“If the business rates could be reviewed, it would help House of Fraser’s future. Without it, store closings will continue to be inevitable.

Last year retail giant John Lewis announced plans to convert a large chunk of its famous Oxford Street store into offices. 

Westminster City Council gave conditional planning permission last October to The John Lewis Partnership. This partnership runs Waitrose’s department store chain.   

According to the plan, almost half of the company’s flagship stores could be transformed into office space. This is part of the company’s efforts to cut its losses and make a profit.

John Lewis' flagship department store is on London's Oxford Street. Bosses have submitted plans to turn around half of the store into office space

John Lewis is the flagship department store on London’s Oxford Street. The Bosses submitted plans for converting half the store to office space.

The John Lewis Partnership, which runs the department store chain and the Waitrose grocery arm, secured conditional planning permission from Westminster City Council last night

Westminster City Council granted conditional planning permission to the John Lewis Partnership. This partnership runs Waitrose’s department store chain as well as the Waitrose grocery division.

Retail sales drop for the fifth consecutive month, causing shoppers to avoid High Street – longest streak of record 

With sales falling steadily for the fifth month in a row, shoppers continue to avoid the high streets. This is the longest consecutive stretch of record. 

The drop was largely down to  plummeting sales in non-food shops, with lighting and furniture businesses the hardest hit, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.   

The retail chiefs blamed the Government for the problems and asked ministers to address them.

Helen Dickinson is the chief executive officer of British Retail Consortium. She stated it was vital that UK sales recover in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

She said: ‘Fuel shortages, wet weather and low consumer confidence all contributed to lower consumer demand this month, with household goods, furniture and books all hit particularly hard. 

“Retailers are likely to be worried about slumping sales as they prepare for Christmas.  

“Labour shortfalls on all supply chain levels, including factories, warehouses, farms and truck drivers threaten to undermine this recovery. Government must find a long-term solution.

According to some commentators, the problem could cause shifts in traditional holiday shopping habits for the rest of this year.

Silvia Rindone from Ernst and Young is a retail expert. She said that shoppers tend to wait until December in order to get great deals on Christmas.

“This year with supply disruption news and concerns about key products, consumers are more likely to move their Christmas non-perishable spending to October and November in order to get the items they desire.

British high streets suffered a severe hit during the pandemic. The Government closed shops and ordered people to buy goods online. 

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the drop was due in volume sales in nonfood retailers, with furniture and lighting businesses being most severely affected.

Sales volumes in September were down 0.2 per cent, following a 0.6 per cent fall in August, although they remain 4.2 per cent above pre-pandemic levels in February 2020.

The final weeks of September saw fuel sales rise as panic buying drove many forecourts dry. After suppliers stated that HGV driver shortages were affecting delivery, fuel sales increased. Fuel sales rose 2.9 per cent. 

Volumes of food sales also increased by 0.6%, according to the ONS. They are still 3.9% higher than pre-Covid.

But while shoppers opted to avoid high streets, sales online continued to rise and now account for 28.1 per cent of all spending – up from 27.9 per cent in August.

There was a particular surge in department store sales online, up by 3.8 per cent, meaning nearly 10p in every £1 spent online goes to the likes of John Lewis, Debenhams or House of Fraser, the ONS said.

By comparison, household goods stores saw a 3.6 per cent drop in online sales.

Darren Morgan (ONS director for economic statistics) said that ‘Household goods led to this month’s fall, falling by nearly 10%, while food sales rebounded after dropping last month.

“Petrol sales have exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the first times, filling stations reporting strong sales in the final week of September.

According to the report, “Despite the removal of all restrictions on in-store sales, many customers still prefer to shop online.”

The retail chiefs blamed the Government for the problems and asked ministers to address them.

Helen Dickinson (CEO of British Retail Consortium) stated: “Retailers will be worried by the slump in Sales, as they start their preparations to the all-important Christmas Period.

Low consumer confidence, fuel shortages and wet conditions all contributed to lower demand for consumer goods and household items, such as furniture, books, and other consumer products.

She said: “For the sake and economic recovery of the UK, it is crucial that retail sales rebound as we approach the festive season.

“Labour shortages in supply chains on farms, factories and warehouses, as well as lorry drivers all could derail the recovery. It is essential that government finds a long-term remedy to this issue.

House of Fraser's flagship Oxford Street department store closed in April 2020

House of Fraser’s Oxford Street flagship department store was closed by the House in April 2020

A person walks past closed doors at the closed down Debenhams store on Oxford Street

An individual walks through the doors of the Debenhams shop on Oxford Street. 

Commentators predict that traditional holiday shopping patterns could shift in the future as a result.

Silvia Rindone (EY UK and Ireland) said that in recent years shoppers have been more likely to wait until December to purchase Christmas gifts, hoping to find great bargains.

“However this Christmas, due to news about supply chain disruptions and supply worries for key products shoppers may pull back their non-perishable Christmas shopping into October or November in order to get the things they desire.

Ikea announces it will turn Oxford Street Topshop into a six-floor mega store in £378m deal

Ikea is buying the former Topshop flagship store on London’s Oxford Street for £378 million. Built in 1913, the building is occupied by several narrow shops back onto a back alley.

It was originally operated by Peter Robinson as a department store, and Burton used it to sell their products. Topshop eventually purchased the business in 1965. 

MailOnline received an email from Ikea confirming that they will have smaller products on six floors and the entire range is available for purchase. 

It was seen as a crucial vote of confidence for London’s central London area, where tourist footfall has plummeted due to the pandemic.

Ikea opened its first shops in Tokyo, Madrid Madrid, Moscow and Paris since 2019, to expand its reach on high-traffic streets.

Following the Hammersmith store launch, Ikea Oxford Street will be opened in fall 2023.

The West End location was home to Sir Philip Green’s Topshop website, but it was placed on the market last year after Arcadia Group went into administration.  

Ikea’s new smaller-format store will be located at 214 Oxford Street. The space covers approximately a third the 22200 sqm building, and spans seven floors.

Krister Mattsson (Managing Director of Ingka Investments), Ikea’s property-buying arm said, “We are thrilled to have signed the agreement for a property at one of Europe’s busiest shopping roads and it is another opportunity to make Ikea more affordable, accessible and sustainable for our customers.

Demand for department stores: Topshop started life in 1964 as the 'Top Shop' concession within the now defunct Peter Robinson department store in Sheffield. Pictured, shoppers queue up outside the entrance to the Peter Robinson Oxford Street store in 1978

Topshop began as a concession in the Peter Robinson department store, Sheffield in 1964. The Peter Robinson Oxford Street store was photographed in 1978 as shoppers waited to get into it.

“This property is a great opportunity for retail space and we strongly believe in London’s long-term real estate market.

Peter Jelkeby, country retail manager and chief sustainability officer at Ikea UK & Ireland, said: ‘Even though online shopping continues to accelerate at a rapid pace, our physical stores (large and small), will always be an essential part of the Ikea experience – as places for inspiration and expertise, community and engagement.

‘Bringing Ikea to the heart of Oxford Street – one of the most innovative, dynamic and exciting retail destinations in the world – is a direct response to these societal shifts and an exciting step forward in our journey to becoming a more accessible Ikea.’