By: Jane MallinMARKS & SPENCER could take over C&A’s lease on its Trafford Centre store, based just outside Manchester, it was reported in The Times today. This is something of a U-turn for M&S, which decided against setting up business in the out-of-town shopping mall when it opened in 1998. Analysts said the decision by M&S to study the documents for the 3,700 square metre Trafford Centre site implied the group, chaired by Luc Vandevelde, recognised the mistake in turning down the opportunity originally. Nick Bubb, retail analyst at SG Securities, said: “They regretted not being there from the beginning. You have to be in these out-of-town centres.” However the Trafford Centre is just a short distance from Manchester’s city centre, which is home to the chain’s largest store worldwide. M&S is assessing the risks of taking customers away from its existing outlet. The Trafford Centre store is the only one in the C&A portfolio in which M&S has an interest, the group said, confirming that it was not harbouring any expansion plans. Last week M&S reported a 1.2 per cent fall in sales of general goods for the previous 15 weeks.

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