TWO Andover chiefs have set up a meeting to try and stop a major retailer from pulling out of the town.

MP for North West Hampshire, Kit Malthouse, and leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Phil North, have secured a meeting with Marks & Spencer's (M&S) head of public affairs, Tony Ginty, to ask the well-known retailer to reconsider the proposed closure of their Andover branch.

The meeting, which is set to be held in Parliament on Wednesday, was secured after M&S announced 50 jobs are at risk as it is consulting with its employees on a proposed closure of the town's only department store.

Mr Malthouse has written to M&S' chairman, Archie Norman, and Councillor North has written to every member of the board in hope of saving the branch from leaving the town.

Councillor North said the pair have included what he believes are "compelling arguements", adding: "Not least because of the substantial housebuilding programme and population growth in the town in recent years, which is continuing, and allied to this is the massive proposed public sector investment such as the urban park as part of the Town Mills Riverside Project and the creation of a cultural quarter in the town centre.

"I‘m concerned that a sufficiently up-to-date assessment of the future of Andover has not been undertaken and used to inform their decision

"In short, I believe that there are powerful strategic reasons why M&S would want to retain a presence in Andover, and we will put this forward when we meet them on Wednesday.

"In the meantime well done to Cllr Iris Andersen, who is collecting signatures outside the store for them to remain."