Kirkcaldy town centre: Signs of positive news

Burtons and Dorothy Perkins stores, Kirkcaldy
Burtons and Dorothy Perkins stores, Kirkcaldy

Did Kirkcaldy town centre finally catch a break last week when it escaped a hit list of closures by another major High Street name?

The troubled Arcardia Group announced 23 closures of its Top Man, Top Shop, Burtons and Dororthy Perkins branches – but the Lang Toun avoided the axe.

And now, the town hopes it will be the same with Boots, which has revealed plans to review the future of 200 stores across the UK in a bid to turn around its fortunes.

Kirkcaldy has been at the forefront of major closure recently with the loss of M&S, and Debenhams axe due to fall early in 2020.

Business organisations and politicians have long feared further major losses – all outwith their control –so the news that the Arcadia Group wasn’t targeting the town in its first tranche was seen as welcome relief.

Sir Philip Green’s business has put some 520 jobs under threat as it looks to close branches of Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins and Burton.

More may follow under a separate plan.

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The company is owned by Green’s wife, and then segmented into different groups which have a second raft of closures under consideration.

The Arcadia Group’s plans hinge on a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) – a type of insolvency – being backed by stakeholders, with landlords also asked to cut rents in the remaining stores.

But the fact Kirkcaldy did not figure on the initial list – which included Aberdeen and Glasgow – has been welcomed.

Councillor Alistair Cameron, Kirkcaldy Central, said: “My first reaction was one of delight for the staff who work in the stores who have lived with the worry of possible closure.

“Nothing is certain, but, for the time being, it has given them, and the town, some respite.

“The number of closures announced is only a small fraction of the stores they have, but the fact Kirkcaldy is not on that list has to be welcomed.

“There may be more hits to come, but let’s hope this news is a good sign.”

He added: “We need some positive news for our town centre. We’re working hard to make that happen and we have a lot of good people on board – from Kirkcaldy4All to Fife Council to Tahir Ali at the Kirkcaldy Centre who is working on a number of exciting plans.

“Ultimately it is all about connecting with people who are interested in coming to Kirkcaldy.”

Meanwhile, Boots has announced plans to review 200 of its UK stores, which could close within two years.

That amounts to just 10 per cent of its total outlets, and no towns have yet been identified as being at risk.

Kirkcaldy has a branch in the High Street and one at Fife Retail Park.