MARKS & Spencer has announced it will open fewer food stores than planned, which could cast doubt on the retailer's new store at Seacourt in Botley.

After a disappointing Christmas period, when sales of both food and clothing fell, the retailer has 'reassessed and reduced' its opening programme of 'Simply Food' shops.

It now only plans to open a total of 36 stores over the next six months.

New stores in Broadstone, Streatham Hill and St Albans are the only ones which have been confirmed as opening as planned. 

A spokeswoman for M&S refused to confirm or deny whether the new 1,264 square metre store planned for the revamped Seacourt Retail Park in Botley Road would go ahead, in light of the announcement. 

Planning permission for the food and drink store was granted last year and it is seen as a key plank of the Seacourt renovation project which saw the closure of the BP petrol garage. 

Some 14 stores across the UK will also close as part of the announcement, though Oxford looks to be unaffected.

Marks & Spencer currently has four stores in the city – one on Queen Street and Simply Food stores in Summertown, Oxford Station and in Cowley Road.