More than 5,000 people have signed a petition to stop Marks & Spencer close its Dorchester store next year. The petition has been sent by customers to M&S chief executive Steve Rowe in a bid to get the company to change its mind. The move is part of a major restructuring of its business operations which will see it close 72 of its high street stores, on top of 48 that have already closed. M&S had been struggling to make a profit even before the dramatic retail slump of the last couple of years hit retailers, with the company coming in for criticism for failing to appeal to younger consumers. Just a few years ago M&S was mooted as one of the two big anchor stores, along with Waitrose, for the much-vaunted Charles Street town centre redevelopment scheme, which was later abandoned. “Shopping habits are changing so we’re transforming our store estate to meet the needs of today’s customers,” said Aaron Spicer, M&S head of region for Wessex. “Proposing to close our Dorchester store is a difficult but necessary part of reshaping our estate to have fewer, but more inspirational stores. Over the coming weeks our priority will be supporting our great team of colleagues at Dorchester as we discuss what’s best for them.” Any closure won’t take place until 2020.