MARKS and Spencer says it is in talks about selling its former Bournemouth store, which has stood empty for 10 months.

The Commercial Road branch was shut last Easter as the high street institution closed 14 shops in a cost-cutting drive.

In a statement to the Daily Echo, M&S said: “We are in discussions with regard to the sale of the building and will update the Bournemouth community as soon as we can.”

M&S’s property includes part of the neighbouring Avenue Centre, where its store had an entrance.

The Avenue – which contains HMV and Sports Direct – was bought last year by Verbe Properties, which plans to renovate the centre and add pop-up businesses, food traders, vintage markets, arts shows and events.

Paul Kinvig, chief operating officer for Bournemouth Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID), said of the M&S developments: “It would be great to have that size of space in Bournemouth town centre utilised for something, whether it’s retail or whether it’s innovative uses related to what’s going on at the Avenue Centre.

“It would be a real boost to Bournemouth if that could happen.”

Marks and Spencer’s Commercial Road branch had been a fixture in the town since 1930 and its closure was described by Tony Brown, the boss of its rival Beales, as a blow to Bournemouth.

Its demise came despite the fact that Commercial Road had attracted other fashion retailers, including Zara, Primark and River Island, which relocated from Old Christchurch Road.

At the time of the M&S closure, town centre councillor Bob Chapman said he was “somewhat disgusted” at the decision. He had presided, as deputy mayor, over its reopening after an environmentally-friendly refurbishment in 2007.

He said last year: “I hope Marks will have the decency to market the site as soon as possible to other retailers but the future for retail isn’t looking good at the moment nationally.”

The M&S Commercial Road site has a rateable value of £735,000, meaning the company will be paying £362,355 a year in business rates to have it standing empty, in addition to other bills such as water and sewerage.