Tesco still talking as clock ticks to closure

Talks continue in a bid to save Kirkcaldy Tesco store on Hunter Street.
Talks continue in a bid to save Kirkcaldy Tesco store on Hunter Street.
1
Have your say

With a closure deadline just four weeks away, vital talks are still ongoing to convince Tesco there’s an economic case for staying in Kirkcaldy.

The supermarket giant, which plans to shut its Hunter Street store on April 4, is still giving “serious consideration” to a rescue package brokered by Gordon Brown MP and Fife Council.

The possibility of redeveloping the site is a real possibility and I would rather that Tesco were part of that

Cllr David Ross

Mr Brown, who spoke to Tesco on Monday following his meeting with CEO Dave Lewis in London last week, said: “The town has made its best offer and made a strong case to Tesco to stay.”

Any rescue package would not contain “public subsidies,” he revealed but a reduction in rent and support for continuing Post Office services meant the “economics now worked” for Tesco remaining.

Cllr David Ross, leader of Fife Council told the Press: “Tesco are still continuing with their timetable for closure but they are talking with us about alternatives.

“Their response has been quite positive.”

The supermarket, which had been paying £720,000 a year rent and £700,000 on its rates, maintained it could not find a “route to profitability” when it announced the decision to close, with the loss of up to 189 jobs.

The Press understands Tesco is examining ways to reduce its rates.

“While it was not in the gift of the Council to reduce rates at the moment” a rating revaluation, due to be introduced in 2017, would “reduce the rates across the town centre, not just Tesco,” said Cllr Ross.

“From my point of view, there is the possibility of the Tesco site returning to commercial viability, but that’s not my decision to make,” he added.

Last week Threadneedle Investments, which handles The Postings site in Kirkcaldy on behalf of Zurich Insurance announced it had significantly reduced its rent to accommodate Tesco.

A spokesman added: “We hope this will secure the cooperation of the local council to progress discussions on the wider redevelopment of the centre.”

Vowing to commit to such a project, Cllr Ross said: “The Postings is not an ideal site for the operation that they (Tesco) want to run.

“But I think that Threadneedle have been very accommodating in terms of the lease and rental.

“The possibility of redeveloping the site is a real possibility and I would rather that Tesco were part of that.”

Meanwhile, a Tesco spokesman said: “We welcome the response of the local Council and continue to explore options whilst maintaining the closure timetable.”