Greenwich Council is seeking an urgent meeting with M&S over "bizarre" plans to close its Woolwich store in a blow to the area's regeneration.

The Powis Street outlet shop could shut its doors as early as August after the chain announced it was restructuring its outlet business.

And the changes are also expected to see the two-floor Lewisham's M&S close its upper outlet level, with only the ground floor remaining open to shoppers.

With Crossrail on the horizon, Woolwich town centre has been transformed in recent years with new squares, an enormous Tesco and civic centre.

But the M&S store - which marks its centenary this year - seems to have fallen victim to cost-cutting. Last month the organisation's chief executive Marc Bolland revealed a 4 per cent decline in underlying pre-tax profit - the third successive year of decline.

The Woolwich branch's 53 staff are being consulted, with a closure expected to follow in the summer.

Woolwich workers, along with the Lewisham outlet floor's 27 employees will be redeployed elsewhere in M&S, the company says.

A Greenwich Council spokeswoman said: "We are shocked at this bizarre decision and extremely disappointed that Marks and Spencer did not discuss it with us.

"Woolwich is a town undergoing a great transformation and is seeing regeneration and investment on a massive scale. The decision therefore seems both ill timed and ill informed.

"The town has a clear and coherent strategy for economic growth and a development master plan which is already coming to fruition. It is a time when businesses are coming to the town and are opening new premises.

"The council has sought an urgent meeting with senior representatives in the company which we hope will take place before the end of next week".

A spokesman for M&S said: "Our outlet clearance business needs fewer stores because more people are shopping online at and our clothing team is managing stock levels better than ever before.

"Therefore, after much consideration, we have made a proposal to close our M&S outlet store in Woolwich and the top floor M&S outlet operation at our store in Lewisham.

"If the proposal goes ahead, all 80 colleagues will be offered positions in other M&S stores."

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