Furniture giant Ikea has supported Marks & Spencer’s plans to redevelop its Marble Arch store ahead of its own debut on Oxford Street.

Marks & Spencer, Oxford Street

Ikea is backing M&S’ plans to redevelop its Oxford Street flagship

Ikea, which is preparing to open a landmark store in the former Topshop premises on Oxford Street, lent its backing to M&S’ proposals, which have prompted opposition on heritage and sustainability grounds.

Ikea UK country manager and chief sustainability officer Peter Jelkeby has written to the inquiry that has just opened into M&S’ scheme, arguing that the changes envisaged should be recognised as beneficial to Oxford Street.

The UK’s foremost high street has suffered in recent years from lower footfall following the pandemic, as well as the opening of a rash of candy stores that have been condemned for selling fake goods and face allegations of business rates evasion.

In a letter to the Planning Inspectorate’s Alison Dyson, Jelkeby said: “As country retail manager and chief sustainability officer of Ikea UK, I am writing to express support for the proposed redevelopment of the site at 458 Oxford Street, occupied by Marks and Spencer.

“With Ikea having recently committed to a significant investment at Oxford Circus and preparing to open our newest London store next year, we are delighted to see the proposal from Marks and Spencer. 

“The high street, and particularly a street of such international economic importance as Oxford Street, needs this type of investment and regeneration to continue attracting customers and visitors, as well as providing confidence [in] the UK’s high streets and inspiration to other retailers.

“At Ikea, we strongly believe that bricks-and-mortar retail continues to play a vital role, even within an increasingly digital retail landscape and as customer expectations evolve. 

“We are looking forward to being part of Oxford Street’s vibrant retail community, which should be supported in every way possible to remain the iconic destination it has always been. 

“We believe the development from Marks and Spencer supports this vision and we are pleased to offer our full support.”

M&S’ plans are supported by other local retailers, including Selfridges, but have faced opposition from campaign groups.

Comedian and campaigner Griff Rhys Jones attacked M&S’ proposals earlier this week at the inquiry. 

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