BICESTER is to get a new food store this month, but it won’t be located in the town centre.

Marks & Spencer will open its food hall on the edge of town at Bicester Shopping Park on Wednesday.

In line with the opening, the chain’s existing food store on Sheep Street will close the day before, with colleagues moving across to the new shop.

The brand says the location at the shopping park, which is near the Kingsmere estate, will provide the community with a bigger and better food offer.

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But residents say the change is a bad move as it means people will now have to drive to the shop and elderly people will either miss out or have to use bus services to get there.

Oxford Mail:

Fiona Parker said on Facebook: “My mother in law aged 91 is very sad. She won’t be going to the new store. She used to do her whole weekly food shop there [town centre store] before Covid. She doesn’t have the strength to get on a bus. Bicester high street is a desert for older people.”

Jane Thomas added: “Such a shame it will be missed. The new one's too much out of the way. Plus there’s enough traffic down that way already."

Ethel Wilkins commented: "We are going to have nothing in town the way things are going. It's very sad."

Marks & Spencer is struggling like other big brands due to the pandemic and announced last month that it was bringing forward a plan to cut jobs, with 950 roles set to go.

Some people feel that despite the shop moving, it is better than it closing down completely like other high street chains such as jewellery shop H. Samuel, which shut its Bicester branch in June.

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Lisa Ward said: “I appreciate it may be difficult for some folk to get to the new store, but if moving keeps the store open in our town, surely that’s better than no M&S at all.”

The two main food stores that will be left in the town centre are Sainsbury's and Iceland.

Marks and Spencer will join Next and sports outlet Nike at the shopping park.

Oxford Mail:

It will be led by store manager Chris Chapman, alongside his team of 50 staff.

Mr Chapman, who has worked for the brand for 13 years, said: “My team and I are really excited about our new store location in Bicester. When open we’ll continue working hard to provide outstanding service and help make every penny count for the community.

"Our new Food store will offer even more great quality food products and customers will also be able to shop for the full Clothing & Home collections via M&, using our Click & Collect service.

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"We’re really looking forward to welcoming the community and our store will have measures in place to reflect the latest guidelines, to ensure everyone can shop safely and with peace of mind.”

The foodhall will open at 9am on its launch date.

Its opening hours are 8am-9pm Monday to Saturday and 11am-5pm on Sundays.