LOSING Marks and Spencer from the Dolphin Centre has come as a ‘devastating blow’ to Poole with residents told to ‘go out there and shop’ to keep retailers in the town.

Over the past few years Poole has seen a number of food shops depart from the town centre including Iceland and Tesco, leaving a small choice for residents unable to travel to larger supermarkets.

'We've lost everything'

Alarmed by the most-recent closure, the Mayor of Poole, Councillor Julie Bagwell said: “We need some type of food store in the Dolphin.

“We’ve lost Iceland, we’ve lost everything really.

“All we’ve got left now is Sainsbury’s and Asda - there’s nothing else left so for me that’s really not very good for anyone that can’t drive.

“It’s a devastating blow for Poole.”

READ MORE: Marks and Spencer closes for final time in Poole

Bournemouth Echo: Mayor of Poole, Councillor Julie BagwellMayor of Poole, Councillor Julie Bagwell

Echoing this sentiment Councillor for Poole Town, Andy Hadley said: “I think it’s a great shame that we’ve lost M&S. In terms of an anchor in its place I'd love to see an M&S Food or a Waitrose Food in town.

“It’s about how do we give people the ability to shop where they are and we’ve lost Tesco, we still have Sainsburys and Asda but in terms of big supermarkets the danger is now having to get people to drive out of town if they’ve got a car, or missing out for those who don’t.”

The pandemic has seen a further blow to the high street with shoppers taking to the internet more and more.

Cllr Hadley urged residents to ‘get out there and shop’ to entice retailers to come back to the high street. He said: “People knock it [Poole] but actually every community is struggling and actually a part of it is down to all of us.

“We can sit and moan about it but unless you actually go out and shop there, then the shopkeepers aren’t going to come back.”

READ MORE: Wilko to close in Bournemouth town centre

'This has opened up an exciting opportunity'

Disappointed to see the back of M&S but determined to look toward the future with positivity, centre manager at the Dolphin Centre, John Grinnell said: “We are very disappointed that M&S made the decision to close after 50 years in the centre. We would have loved them to stay, however, this has now opened up an exciting opportunity for future occupiers and we are currently exploring different options for this space.

“Last year was significant for The Dolphin with the launch of KINGLAND and further investment being made in GATHER, our community events space. We also introduced our vibrant and growing street market into the centre which champions the community’s independent retailers.

“We are working even harder in 2022 on wider plans of reimaging The Dolphin, to make it a future ready space.”