A CAMPAIGN has been launched to save a popular High Street retailer after an announcement of its potential closure this week.

Vigo Road residents, Iris Andersen and John Cockaday, have started the initiative in support of the town centre branch of Marks & Spencer (M&S), launching a petition.

Fifty jobs are at risk as Marks & Spencer (M&S) is consulting with its employees on a proposed closure of the town's only department store.

After 81 years of trading, the considered closure of the well-known retailer has prompted residents to take action.

Ms Andersen and Mr Cockaday started the campaign the day after it was announced its future could be in jeopardy.

Both residents have been collecting signatures outside of the store from members of the public who want it to remain open.

So far the campaign has gained over 700 signatures.

Ms Anderson said: "I am making a petition to make everybody at Mark's head office understand how much we want to keep Mark's here.

"[The elderly] can come here to get their food, including microwave food ."

She urged Marks & Spencer to rethink the closure, adding: "If we are supporting you, can you support us and be loyal to us?"

One signee, Marion Corbett, of Hepworth Close, said the closure would have a negative effect on the town.

The 67-year-old said: "This town is dying on it's feet as it is, that will just about finish it off."

Ms Corbett said she was worried about the potential repercussions for other town-based businesses. She added:: "If you have to go out of town to get the same things now, you'll [also] do other shopping there and that will have repercussions on the rest of the places here."

Mr Cockaday said: “Obviously we’re all concerned because High Street is getting less and less use.

“What we can’t understand is the amount of housing is on the up in the area and shops are closing down.

“A lot of local people use this shop every day, I’m nearly there every day, Iris is there nearly every day, because it’s literally our local shop.”

Others pointed out the town's housing expansions with town resident, Neil Lambourne, adding: “I’m very surprised, we’re supposed to be expanding with all these extra people coming to the town.

“I’d be interested to see what M&S big bosses have to say.

“Our town is expanding by ten to 20,000 people a year, we need stores like this.

“Now we’re losing it, people are going to stores like Winchester and Basingstoke even more, this is bad news.”

As previously reported, M&S said it will be shutting down six stores by the end of April, and have proposed to close another eight shops, including Andover.

Councillors, business owners and North West Hampshire MP, Kit Malthouse, expressed their shock over the announcement.

Aaron Spicer, M&S head of region for Wessex, said: "Proposing to close the Andover store has been a difficult but necessary decision.

"Over the coming weeks we'll be talking to each colleague about what is right for them and we'll update customers and the community as soon as we can."