Breathing new life into Longbridge
Once synonymous with the car industry, there was a time not so long ago when Longbridge, just south-west of central Birmingham, seemed to be an area that had fallen into terminal decline. But take a visit to the town now and you’ll see a remarkable transformation.
Longbridge is home to one of the UK’s largest regeneration projects – and at the heart of that project you’ll find a huge new M&S store. At 150,000 square foot, the two–storey unit will be the Midlands’ largest M&S store. Shoppers can expect find the very best that we have to offer, including womenswear, beauty, food, menswear, kidswear, home products and a café. The front of our striking new store will boast a living, breathing green wall, which will stay green throughout the year. A six floor multi-storey and 500 space surface car park make it all the more accessible for our employees and customers.
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We ask Mark Fruin, the new store manager leading this project, to tell us more:
“Round about Christmas 2015, there’ll be 150,000 sq. ft. more M&S in Longbridge than there was before! This will be a regional centre, and it’ll have all the features you’d expect. So for example – there’s a 250-seat café that includes a heated balcony for a bit of al fresco dining. Plus we’re putting in a Babyworld, a delicatessen bar, a nail bar and the full range of M&S home furnishings.
“But how it looks on the outside is just as important as what’s on the inside. We worked closely with Birmingham City Council’s planning team to design a store that fits in with the architectural ambition of this development and the city in general. So for example, we’re including a ‘green living wall’ (similar to the iconic features in our Cheshire Oaks and Newcastle stores). The planted wall will be irrigated naturally by rain water and will help create a stunning exterior for the store.
“I’m originally from London, but I’ve lived in Bromsgrove for many years – so I’m almost a local! I’ve seen the area change gradually from the old Rover works to the regeneration project we see today, and I’m proud of the role M&S has played at the heart of this community in Longbridge. As a business, we’ve wanted a site like this for years, so everyone is delighted that the West Midlands will have a store of this quality so conveniently sited in South West Birmingham. I just can’t wait to open the doors and welcome the customers – I look forward to seeing you there!”Inside M&S