STAFF at Northwich’s Marks & Spencer store breathed a sigh of relief after it escaped last week’s national closure programme.

The Leicester Street premises were not included on the list of 27 stores that will be closed as a result of the current financial downturn.

Despite heavy price-cutting, poor sales figures before Christmas have forced M&S bosses to shut down outlets across the country – the majority being M&S Simply Food stores.

Spokeswoman Lucy Kelly confirmed Northwich was not among the 27 stores listed for closure. And she said job losses were “just in stores where there is a proposed closure”, which could see the loss of up to 780 positions across the country.

Marks & Spencer first opened in the town in 1908 at 21 High Street, currently occupied by Meller Braggins.

In 1933 a new M&S store with a Tudor-style front was built in Witton Street, where Clinton Cards currently trades. The large branch extended back to Weaver Square through the shop units where Greenwoods operates.

The food and clothes giant then moved to its current home in Leicester Street, when former occupants Sainsbury’s moved to Venables Road.