Kirkcaldy is set to become home to Next’s only Scottish superstore - with the promise of a £4.5 million investment and 90 new local jobs.
The announcement by the UK fashion and home retailer comes just days after Homebase revealed it was quitting Fife Central Retail Park, with the loss of up to 30 jobs.
The news also comes nine months after Next’s plans to increase its existing shop floor space by a mere five per cent at the retail park were knocked back by councillors who warned the move could prove a death-knell for Kirkcaldy High Street.
However, Next was keen to stress it had relevant planning permission for this latest - much larger - expansion which will see it take over the Poundland unit and former JJB and Comet stores.
A spokesman said Next originally planned to create a superstore in Dundee but its ambitions had been thwarted by officials.
“We have been very disappointed by the negative response from both Dundee City Council and the planners, and the subsequent dismissal of our appeal,” he said.
“Next will now be introducing the first large Home and Fashion store in Scotland to Kirkcaldy at Fife Central Retail Park, creating over 90 additional jobs for local people and investing over £4.5m in shopfitting.”
Shopfitters were on site yesterday (Wednesday).
But Homebase to close...
While Next has unveiled plans for a new £4.5 million superstore in Kirkcaldy, a DIY giant has thrown in the towel.
Homebase has revealed it intends to quit Fife Central Retail Park, putting around 30 jobs at risk.
Lifestyle retailer The Range is to take over the premises, potentially alleviating some job losses.
A spokesman said: “Following a period of consultation with colleagues, we have announced that the Homebase store in Kirkcaldy will close, with a date yet to be confirmed.
“The store lease is transferring to retailer The Range subject to planning and landlord consents, who will invite all Homebase Kirkcaldy colleagues for an interview to work in their new store.
“Where possible, we will also look for opportunities for colleagues at nearby Homebase and Argos stores.”
Meanwhile, Next is creating a new superstore at the park by merging together three adjacent units - Comet, Poundland and JJB Sports.
The expansion will create 90 new jobs but, at the time of going to press, Next was unable to confirm what impact the plans would have on its Kirkcaldy High Street store.
Councillor Andrew Rodger, who sits on the central planning committee which rejected Next’s plans for expansion last year, said it was increasingly difficult for high streets to compete with retail parks.
“I believe having Next, Debenhams and Marks and Spencer on Kirkcaldy High Street keeps it vibrant, especially for smaller retailers, who benefit from the spin-off effect” he said.
“We’ve put investment into the Esplanade and Kirkcaldy’s new swimming pool but, if that links to a High Street with nothing in it, what’s that going to do for the area?”
ruled out the addition of 77 square metres of floor space — equivalent to another small shop — at Fife Central Retail Park which would have allowed Next to create a new format store with a wider clothing and home furnishings range and a cafe.