Marks & Spencer Closing Stores Across the UK

Marks & Spencer Closing Stores Across the UK

Once the monarch of the British high street, Marks & Spencer is struggling to escape the closing-down curse. Retailers have been dropping like flies amid an abundance of articles on administration announcements. Even a pioneer brand like M&S is having to take drastic measures to pull through in this shifting economy. Continuing with the plan to close 100 shops by 2022, today they announced the next wave of closures for 17 unlucky locations. At this point, the future is rocky for many Marks & Spencer stores.

Why is Marks & Spencer closing stores?

Changes to shopper habits have been hitting the high street hard, and sadly Marks & Spencer is no exception. Their profits are declining for the second year in a row. In response to dwindling sales, M&S is in the process of shutting down around a third of their home and clothing stores. They are hoping to move this portion of sales online instead, and keep stores in more successful locations. In some instances, food-only M&S outlets will replace the stores that close. Property director Sacha Berendji says that these closures are not easy, but they are vital to saving M&S. Loyal customers will move to nearby stores, and M&S can work on making its stores relevant again instead of seeming outdated. Worryingly, though, they might not stop at closing only 100 stores.

Which Marks & Spencer stores are closing down?

Since the first announcements of store closures, 30 branches have already closed. Marks & Spencer has gone gentle into that good night in Andover, Basildon, Birkenhead, Bournemouth, Bridlington, Clacton, Covent Garden, Darlington, Dover, Durham, Falkirk, Fareham, Fforestfach, Keighley, Kettering, New Mersey Speke Shopping Park, Newmarket, Northampton, Portsmouth, Putney, Redditch, Slough, Stockport, Stockton, Walsall, Warrington, and Wokingham. Luckily for the people of Crewe, Greenock, and Newry, the M&S stores relocated. Another 8 stores affected by a previous announcement include East Kilbride, Edgware Broadwalk, Falmouth, Holloway Road, and Kirkcaldy. The Llandudno and St. Helens stores will be relocating, while a Food Hall will open in Wigan at Robin Retail Park. The latest announcement states that the following stores are closing in the next year:

  • Antrim (the Junction)
  • Ashford, Kent
  • Barrow
  • Bedford
  • Boston
  • Buxton
  • Cwmbran
  • Deal
  • Felixstowe
  • Huddersfield
  • Hull
  • Luton Arndale
  • Newark
  • Northwich
  • Rotherham
  • Sutton Coldfield
  • Weston-super-Mare

What does this mean for Marks & Spencer staff?

This most recent round of closures apparently puts over 1,000 jobs at risk at the named stores. The previous closures already resulted in around 300 job losses. Marks & Spencer say that they are hoping to retain as many of their employees as possible and redeploy them in new roles. So far, this programme will impact almost 2,000 shop staff out of more than 70,000 in total. M&S will be consulting with the employees of the closing stores to try to find ways to keep them open. The stores will not close until these consultations are complete. It’s not over yet for M&S staff, but their representative union USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) says that M&S is “salami slicing” and it is causing stress and uncertainty for their employees.

How to Prevent the Death of the Department Store

How to Prevent the Death of the Department Store

In recent years, things have grown increasingly bleak for the high street. Various iconic British brands folded and disappeared throughout a struggling economy, then a boom in e-commerce. In 2018 alone, it seems like every other week another store goes into administration. Onlookers like to blame the shift in shopping habits on our newer technology-dependent reality. While it is true that times have changed, there is more to this issue than the convenience of online shopping. The department store was an institution, but the downfall of this retail format is looming because it is out of date. Which changes will save department stores?

Why is the Department Store Dying?

Chain stores seem to be dropping like flies. Poundworld, Maplin, and even international giant Toys R Us went bust within the same few months. Stores like New Look and Marks & Spencer are struggling, with House of Fraser narrowly being saved from administration. At the same time, larger department stores like John Lewis and Debenhams have been taking worrying hits to their profits. Physical sales are slumping partly due to the growth of online retail. Stores are struggling to compete with online retailers offering more, all in one place, for less money. There is also the added convenience of home delivery and expanding parcel return facilities. Some stores try to utilize online shopping, delivery, and collection, but it isn’t helping their own physical stores. Another reason why they are seeing less footfall is that their retail models simply don’t appeal to customers anymore.

What is the Modern Shopper Looking For?

Yes, the ability to order online is a huge draw these days. But sometimes shopping in person is necessary, to see and touch products for yourself and even try things on. The problem with stores is that with so little investment, they fail to provide the important services that customers would actually look for. Lack of changing rooms, untrained staff, and no opportunities for involvement leave customers feeling unwelcome, and unwilling to waste precious time browsing the endless racks or shelves packed into a confusingly divided space. With the rise of social media and emphasis on ethical responsibility, customers are fuelled by brand loyalty. They aren’t loyal to poorly organized physical spaces – especially if the brand running the store has nothing of individual importance to offer. Modern shoppers don’t want a boring transaction, they want a unique experience.

How Can Department Stores Save Themselves?

The major mistake that failing stores have made is to neglect their branding and customer experience. The ones that are still managing to thrive, like Selfridges, offer an exclusivity, focusing on experiences that the customer cannot have anywhere else. Department stores selling large amounts of stock which are available elsewhere are at a disadvantage. What makes them stand out from their competitors? What about them inspires loyalty in their customers? This is why it is important for brands to “stand for something” and promote values in line with their products. They need to make themselves important to a community instead of seeming out of touch. On that same note, department stores need to embrace technology and incorporate it instore, instead of letting it get ahead of them. Art installations, fashion exhibitions, product trials and tutorials, seasonal workshops, classes for relevant skills and interests – these are just some of the things department stores should be working into their business plans to draw customers through the doors again. They need to look at both the smaller picture and the bigger picture at the same time.

Historic Belfast Primark Building Destroyed by Fire

Historic Belfast Primark Building Destroyed by Fire

The tragic news of a fire devastating the flagship Primark store in Belfast city centre is a shock to many people. Investigations are underway into the cause of the blaze, which began at 11am on Tuesday 28th August. By the time firefighters extinguished all the flames the following morning, the damage was extensive. All that remains of the building in the photo above is a blackened shell.

Why is the Primark Building Important?

Although nobody was hurt, the loss of this landmark building was a blow to the people of Belfast. The Bank Buildings are Grade B1 listed, meaning that they are of local and architectural importance. First opening as the Bank of the Four Johns back in 1787, Waddell Cunningham originally constructed the buildings in 1785. It was then a residence for the Bishop of Down and Connor. The lower floors became a shop in 1805, witnessing public executions outside until 1816. It became a department store with the founding of a drapery firm in 1853. Notoriously, the Bank Buildings experienced three IRA bombs and a fire in 1975 during the Troubles. Primark took over and renovated in 1979, and have been there ever since. They were in the process of a £30 million refurbishment and extension when this fire destroyed the Bank Buildings. It is an iconic part of the heart of the city for many in the local community, and a big draw for business. This tragedy puts hundreds of jobs at risk and will impact local trade as well.

What Will Happen to Primark Belfast?

The cause of the fire has been unclear since the first spotting of smoke coming from the roof. There was an efficient evacuation of shoppers and staff after raising the alarm, meaning that there were no injuries. Police and firefighters set up a cordon around 45m from the scene to protect passersby and the crowd of onlookers. Any hopes they had for a quick resolution crumbled with the building, as the fire spread down each floor over the next several hours. The roof and internal floors collapsed, as debris fell from the sides of the building. While the fire is out, the building is still at risk of total collapse. Structural engineers will carry out assessments over the coming weeks to determine if the facade and interiors are salvageable. A cordon is still in place on Royal Avenue, and police are advising the public to avoid Castle Street as well. It could be a while before any restoration work begins, and there is no estimate for the total cost of the damage yet. The neighbouring shops and businesses are reopening as normal.

What About Primark Belfast Employees?

There are around 350 employees at the Belfast store, who will now be worrying about their futures. Primark had recently begun recruiting for up to 100 new jobs at the store, too. While expressing shock and sadness at this terrible turn of events, Primark’s chief executive Paul Marchant said that they are working closely to support the Belfast team. Primark is also working with the local authorities and their contractors to determine the source of the fire. The trade union USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) met with Primark on Wednesday to discuss the future for the store’s employees. At the moment, the only certainty is that workers will still be paid for the rest of the week. Primark is promising more long-term answers for their staff next week. Management are obviously hoping to retain their employees, but it is not clear if it will be possible to redeploy them all to other areas. Some staff members also lost belongings in the fire that they had to leave behind when evacuating the shop.

How to Get The Most Out of Groupon This Summer

summer with groupon

Summer is a great time to get together with friends and family to spend some quality time with each other and experience new things. Usually one of the only problems with this is that spending some quality time together and experiencing new things in 2018 means it’s going to cost you. As summer can become really expensive when you want to travel and go on days out here’s a list of things you can find on Groupon to help cut the costs, not the experience.

groupon website with a magnifying glass over the logo
Credit: Shutterstock

Days out with the kids/family

Premium Tours

stone henge
Credit: Groupon

You can visit Stonehenge and Bath with this amazing deal. On Groupon, they have both adult and child tickets available for half price! Child tickets used to be £69 they’re now £34.50 and adult tickets used to be £79 they’re now £39.50. This tour will be a great summer day out, rated 4.5 stars make sure you don’t miss out on this limited time only offer.


zapspace bouncy world
Credit: Groupon

If you are from or visiting the Stratfor area why not take your little ones to ZAPspace. With this offer, you a have 1-hour little zapper toddler and parent session and it’s 38% off! Instead of being £16 you can have some great jumping fun for £10.

Walking With Dinosaurs – Arena Spectacular

walking with dinosaurs tour poster
Credit: Groupon

This amazing arena dinosaur spectacular is available in 8 different locations and it is running from the 31 of July to the 30th of December. If your little ones are fascinated by dinosaurs or you want to give them a proper introduction to the largest extinct beats the world ever saw, walking with dinosaurs is the experience to give them. The tickets are discounted by 50% and they start from £20.

Days out with friends

Boat Hire at Finsbury Park

boat hire at finsbury park
Credit: Groupon

If you’re in the London area or you’re planning a trip to London, this offer would make a great day out. With this offer, you can hire a lake boat for 30 minutes with a bag of duck feed for four in Finsbury Park. The 30-minute boat hire is usually £9 but with this offer, you can get it for £4.

The Old Scool Yard

the old school yard karaoke booth
Credit: Groupon

With this deal, you can get a 2-hour private karaoke booth with a jug of rum punch and a pizza for up to 15 people. The pizza is 12″ and the maximum number of people who can be in the booth is 15. Normally this would cost £227 but with this deal, you get 87% off making the cost only £29.90!

City Mazes

city mazes
Credit: Groupon

There are 5 locations for City Mazes meaning that if you don’t live near one you could probably incorporate your visit to a maze into a trip. The mazes are a live escape game and you can book for 4, 6 or 8 people. There is a 51% discount and the prices start at £49.

Spa days/Treatments

Depilex Health and Beauty

depilex waxing
Credit: Groupon

With this Groupon deal, you can get a Brazilian or Hollywood wax at Depilex on Wigmore Street in London.  There are a few options available with this deal: Brazilian or Hollywood was (was £40, now just £10), Brazilian or Hollywood wax plus underarm wax (was £59, now £14) or Brazilain or Hollywood wax plus leg wax (was £62, now only £25). These treatments are perfect to get if you are going on holiday and don’t want to worry about shaving.

Wonder Smile

wonder smile
Credit: Groupon

Have one or two discounted laser teeth whitening sessions at Wonder Smile in London. One session of one-hour laser teeth whitening for 1 was £299 and is not just £59 with 80% discount or one session of one-hour laser teeth whitening for two was £598 and is now only £89 with an 85% discount. Unfortunately, the two other offers for two sessions have all sold out so make sure you grab the chance to save an amazing amount of money.

Crystal Palace Spa

crystal palace spa sauna
Credit: Groupon

This amazing spa is located in Marylebone and is definitely worth travelling for! You can get a two-hour Turkish hammam or Moroccan bath with a full body mask for one or two people, for one the treatment used to cost £120 and now it only costs £45, for two the treatment was £240 and now it is £85.


City Salsa

city salsa, salsa classes
Credit: Groupon

Why not learn how to dance this summer! With this deal, you can get 4 or 8 90-minute beginner salsa classes with City Salsa. The four 90-minute classes were £32 but now with 72% off you can get them for £8.95, the eight 90-minute classes were £64 and now with 70% off they are only £18.95.

Hasina Belly Dance

Hasina Belly dancing
Credit: Groupon

If salsa isn’t really your style why not try belly dancing instead! You can get one belly dance class for £5 with 56% off it used to be £11.25. Three belly dance classes were £33.75 and now are £12 with 64% off. Finally, you can get five belly dancing classes for £18 it used to be £56.25 and has 68% off.

New Skills Academy

Credit: Groupon

If dancing really isn’t your thing, you might enjoy this online floristry course from New Skills Academy to help you keep your garden and floral decorations in pristine condition. This course was £299 but now is only £19 with 94% off. The content is available for 12 months. There’s no better time to learn about flowers and flower arranging than in the summertime!

Ikea is Launching Smaller City Centre Shops


Ikea has announced that it will be opening a small city centre store on Tottenham Court Road in London. The store opening will be apart of a trail for their plan to open more smaller city centre locations making it easier for their customers to view, design and order their products.

The new store is set to open this autumn and will have a focus mainly on kitchens and bedrooms, you will be able to speak to a member of staff and receive help regarding the design of your rooms. You won’t be able to take home the furniture you buy instore and instead they will be delivered to your door from the nearest large store.

Unfortunately, the new small city centre shops will not include cafe’s, meaning there will be no meatballs! This is due to the shops not being big enough to house a cafe or restaurant there will also be no warehouse or stockroom in the back of the stores.

The furniture available to view in the new shop will be apart of the capsule collection and you can look through catalogues and the website as well as inquire about any other pieces of furniture you have seen in the larger shops or online. The furniture in the shops will be designed specifically for buyers who are looking to purchase their dream bedroom or kitchen on a budget and for those who can’t get to a larger store due to transport.

So far this is the only store that has been announced as apart of the smaller shop scheme they’re developing but Ikea hopes to build more of these shops in other city centre locations not just London to help meet the needs of their customers, especially those who are struggling to get to the large shops.

They’re also developing a 24-hour delivery service hoping to change the way their customer’s shop, making it more convenient for those who work full time who need their furniture delivered at a time suitable to their schedule.

We hope Ikea will be opening more of these smaller shops in other parts of the country soon, maybe adding a cafe to one of them too!

Estée Lauder’s Best Selling Foundation Now Has 56 Shades

estee lauder shade range

Estee Lauder’s best selling foundation is the Double Wear stay-in-place foundation. The foundation gives a natural and matte finish to the skin. Estee Lauder is kick-starting the beauty industry into having a larger and inclusive range of products on the way to making it a beauty norm.

Throughout the year’s people of colour have been ignored and not listened to when beauty companies bring out a range of foundation or makeup. Many companies bring out 15 shades of a foundation with 10 of those shades being lighter and medium tones with little darker shades and even when there are darker shades, people of colour often struggle to find a shade that matches their undertone or skin colour altogether.

This ‘controversial topic’ was really highlighted when makeup brand Tarte released their much-anticipated shape tape foundation. They released a photo onto their social media of an arm with swatches from all the shades they had on offer. Many people were expecting the company to release another photo including more shades but unfortunately, the photo they posted was of all of the existing shades. The shade range includes 15 shades, 11/12 of which appeared to be for those with a light or medium skin tone and 3 or 4 of which were for those of a darker skin tone.

tarte shape tape foundation swatches
The original Tarte shape tape foundation swatches

This release was almost laughed at with Youtube beauty gurus saying that they may have well of just not released it as many of them would be boycotting the company for being so uninclusive towards the POC community. Luckily Tarte had backlash from this release but unfortunately, so many companies are allowed to get away with having a predominantly white accommodating shade range and barely catering for POC or not catering for them at all.

You would expect beauty companies in 2018 to be the most inclusive they could be as our world seems to be becoming more inclusive to all types of communities and people but it seems some of the beauty industry is stuck in 1918. Estee Lauder, however, has made it their mission to be as inclusive as possible. They have a shade range of 56 with cool, neutral and warm undertones.

Estee Lauder Website foundation shade range
Credits: Estee Lauder Website

At the moment only 54 shades are available in the UK and shade availability varies from country to country but hopefully, they will be making it an international standard for all of their foundations soon.

Hopefully, other beauty companies will follow Estee Lauder’s lead and start releasing more shades, especially Tarte!

Lush have made a ‘God Is A Woman’ inspired bath bomb

god is a woman bath bomb lush ariana grande

Last week Ariana Grande released her new single ‘God Is a Woman’ from her much anticipated upcoming album ‘Sweetener’. The music video for the single released at noon on the song’s release date, the release of this video brought many critics and all of Ariana’s fans to their knees as the video has such strong cinematography and features many references to mythology and history. It was quickly considered one of Ariana’s best music videos along with ‘No Tears Left To Cry’ which was released earlier in the year after her almost year-long hiatus from creating music after the Manchester arena bombing.

god is a woman lush bath bomb ariana grande
Credit: Ariana Grande – Youtube

In the music video, there is a shot in which Ariana appears to be in an ocean of paint and pastel colours. This shot is shown multiple times in the video and many have speculated that she is in the middle of a vulva or a womb and that she is moving as a fetus would inside of the womb and that this shot represents pregnancy and the creation of life. This has not been confirmed so far by Ariana or the music video director Dave Meyers.

god is a woman music video lush bath bomb ariana grande
Credit: Ariana Grande – Youtube

On July 14th one of Ariana’s fans tweeted out ‘@lushcosmetics make a bath bomb that looks like this & call it god is a woman so I can bathe feeling like a goddess’. The fans name is Eisha, she later posted a screenshot of a message she had direct messaged to Lush North America and a member of their team messaging back to let her know they decided to pass it on to their creative teams at Lush Labs America.

A member of the Lush Labs team called Jack replied to Eisha’s tweet letting her know that he would start working on the bath bomb that day. From there everyone had their eyes glued to Jack’s Instagram story as he was documenting himself in the process of creating a prototype of the GIAW bath bomb.

Ariana’s fans watched as Jack created a few prototypes and through trial and error finished the bath bomb on Friday the 20th of July. A few photos of the bath bomb were posted on social media and now the bath bomb has been sent to both Ariana and Eisha. So far there has not been a confirmation of public release date or whether it will be released in stores at all but Ariana’s fans are hoping the bath bomb if released will be released worldwide not just in the USA.

The final prototype turns the water into a beautiful paint like lilac and the bath bomb itself appears to turn into a crescent moon as it is dissolving in the water, which is another symbol Ariana has used a lot throughout her music career.

Let’s hope that the God Is A Woman bath bomb will be stocked in stores worldwide soon!

Halifax Offers £500 Incentive to Potential Homeowners

The bank Halifax is offering first-time buyers, home movers and people who remortgage from another lender £500 to spend on a variety of products and experiences. It will offer the money to be spent on the bank’s new Mortgage Gift website.

Customers will be able to access the website when their mortgage has been completed. They will be given a login to help them access the site and they can then choose from over 40,000 different things. You could choose a new appliance for your kitchen, garden furniture or tickets for a family day out.

A spokesperson for the mortgages department at Halifax said that new purchases are often required when you move house, such as white goods, furniture or decor.

To qualify for the offer, you must complete on a qualifying mortgage before the 12th August. Under the deal, the minimum loan amount is £25,000 and this excludes buy-to-let, product transfers, further advances and applications under an intermediary. Qualifying mortgages include people who are buying their first home, people who are moving house and people who are remortgaging from a lender who isn’t under the Lloyds Banking Group umbrella.

A finance expert from Moneyfacts said that it was great to see Halifax offering an extra incentive for buyers who may be strapped for cash, due to piling all of their money into a house deposit. She said that adding cashback or gifts is another way that lenders can compete without focusing on the rates. However, she added that buyers should weigh up the overall product rather than choosing a mortgage specifically for the incentives available.

If you’d like to hear more about the mortgage products offered by Halifax, you can call Halifax’s customer service team.

Asda £99 fuel authorisation charge causes customer outrage

Asda card only petrol station

Asda has come under blast on social media as it recently had started to charge a £99 ‘deposit’ on top of the normal charges for the fuel that have topped up at the Asda pay at the pump.

Asda stated that the £99 additional charge was to ensure the customers would have enough money to pay for a whole tank of fuel. They also stated that the £99 charge would not actually leave your bank account as long as the correct value is paid and that it is just supposed to cut down fraud. Asda said that the whole purpose of Visa and MasterCard in this trial was to make sure customers had adequate funds in their account to pay for the whole tank of fuel and that the £99 would be immediately released back into the customer’s bank account.

The trial was only active in 3 petrol stations in the north-west but it was quickly put on hold when customers took to social media to complain about the funds not being put back into their account immediately and that they were left out of pocket after filling up their tank at an Asda petrol station.

This change is due to an industry rule change that requires petrol stations that have automates fuel pumps to pre-authorise a value that is equivalent to a full tank of fuel. In the past fuel customers only had £1 extra taken from their accounts as a pre-authorisation fee to ensure their card is valid. The £99 charge has caused so much outrage due to the fact that no matter how much you will fill up your tank whether it be £5 or £5o you will still be momentarily (some say it did not come back into their account for 2-3 days) charged £99 leaving some customers with no available funds.

You can dodge this temporary charge by using the kiosk at Asda stations to pay for your petrol instead of the pay at the pump stations. The trial has currently been put on hold but you should check with Asda before you start using the pay at the pump stations if you do not have £99 to spare when filling up your tank.

UK Netflix Releases May 2018

netflix on laptop

It’s soon approaching May and Netflix UK has new releases and returns of some favourites to keep us occupied during the last few spring months.

netflix phone

May 1st to 16th

During the first half of the month, Netflix is introducing loads of new programs and films:

For all Love Island fans, you’re just in luck! seasons 1 and 2 will be making their appearance on May 1st as well as Cold Feet seasons 1 to 6. 27: Gone Too Soon is a documentary exploring the deaths of iconic musicians who all passed at age 27 creating the ’27 club’ conspiracy.

Dear White People Volume 2 is available from May 4th, season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race will also be back.

Bad Neighbours 2 is available May 10th featuring Chloe Moretz, Lisa Kudrow, Seth Rogan and Zac Efron.

For all your science needs Bill Nye will be back in season 3 of his Netflix series, Bill Nye Saves the World on May 11th. Teen drama film The Kissing Booth is out May 11th too, along with Taxi Driver a Robert De Niro classic.

The Intern will be available on May 13th a comedy-drama featuring Anna Hathaway as a CEO and an unlikely intern, Robert De Niro.

May 17th to 31st

In the second half of the month you’ll be able to catch:

May 18th will bring Cargo a horror film featuring Martin Freeman in which he tries to keep his daughter safe in a world swarming with zombies. The Social Network will also be out may 18th, the biopic about Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt makes a come back with season 4 on May 20th.

May 23rd welcomes Explained a new weekly series discussing topics like the gender wage gap.

Season 2 of The Toys That Made Us comes back on the 25th focusing on toys of the past and how they changed how kids played throughout time. Steve Martin and Martin short: An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Life is also available from May 25th.

Hugh Jackman takes on an updated Peter Pan story in Pan on May 27th.