Shoppers have been left "devastated" by news Gravesend's Marks & Spencer could be set to close after more than 100 years of trading.

A spokesman for the retailer announced a proposal on Monday (June 2) to shut the shop in New Road, leaving councillors and shoppers berating the "terrible news".

Gravesham Council reacted to the shock announcement with a statement, describing the idea as "extraordinary", while residents fear the closure could turn Gravesend into a "ghost town".

A Gravesham Council spokesman said: "We were amazed by the news of the potential closure which has been part of the retail offering in town for more than a century.

Councillor Bryan Sweetland said: "The first I knew of this was through News Shopper and if this goes ahead, it would be terrible news for Gravesend.

"I’m a huge fan of M&S - I get all my suits and shirts from there.

"If the leader of the council Councillor John Burden didn’t know this was going to happen - why not?"

Coun John Burden revealed to News Shopper the council did not know about the retailer’s proposal beforehand.

News Shopper: Will Gravesend turn into a 'ghost town' if M&S closes?

He added: "It’s poor on their part not to talk to us ahead of time.

“Their decision defies logic so we will certainly be talking to them about it and try and get them to reconsider.”

Shoppers' view: 'devastating for the town'

Norman Nettleingham, 87, of Millfield Drive, Northfleet, said: "I have been going in the store all my life and it is very devastating for the town.

"I think it has gone down in recent years. I can never find anything in the men's section for myself which is disappointing."

News Shopper: Will Gravesend turn into a 'ghost town' if M&S closes?

Yvonne Scott, 65, of Vigilant Way, Gravesend said: "This is terrible news for the town.

"It will turn Gravesend into a ghost town like Dartford and we don't want that.

"There are more and more pounds shops opening and it's not good."

Esme Both, 73, of Mackenzie Way, Gravesend, said: "I use the shop most days for food and other goods, it's a great place to just pop into.

"I will miss it - it's very devastating for the town."

News Shopper: Will Gravesend turn into a 'ghost town' if M&S closes?

David Bayliss, 68, from Chatham, regularly visits his son who lives in Gravesend and shops in the town.

He said: "This M&S is depressing, the managers need to look around at their other stores and see what they are doing.

"I am not surprised about this news because this store doesn't hit you when you walk in, the Hempstead Valley store is much better."

M&S statement

An M&S spokeswoman said: "We are closely managing our store estate to ensure it is fit for the future of the company and, after much consideration, we have taken the decision to propose the closure of our store on New Road.

"All colleagues will be offered positions in other M&S stores."