Wm Low’s big move into Kirkcaldy’s brand new Postings

1974 - advert announcing the opening of Wm Low store at The Postings, Kirkcaldy
1974 - advert announcing the opening of Wm Low store at The Postings, Kirkcaldy

It’s incredible to think Kirkcaldy town centre used to be home to several supermarkets.

Tesco’s decision to quit town in 2015 left behind a white elephant empty unit in Hunter Street – and the impact of the closure is still being felt three years on.

Inside the new Wm Low store

Inside the new Wm Low store

Tesco, of course, used to be in the Mercat, while Safeway’s west end base is now a car park, and the Co-op’s old building was demolished, leaving a huge gap site at the east end.

Other big retail names, such as Littlewoods and BhS, have also departed.

But there is one other name which will be instantly recognisable to a generation of shoppers – Wm Low.

And it was the original flagship tenant in the unit Tesco abandoned three years ago.

The steps which led up to the store from inside The Postings

The steps which led up to the store from inside The Postings

The Postings had just opened at a cost of £4.25m and, according to Kirkcaldy and District Chamber of Commerce, the town had more shopping space per head of population than Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee or Glasgow.

Wm Low were anything but new to town.

The store had been in the High Street for a century, first at number 42 and then along to the east end at number 251, which was latterly a furniture shop and now used by a charity, sitting next to the old Co-op gap site opposite the indoor market.

The Postings endured the sort of teething troubles all new developments have to face, and react to.

Not all units were let immediately – nine of the 17 were filled with four of five others said to be close to signing up.

There were also complaints about the stairs leading down to the High Street.

While the zigzag design was fine for people with pushcairs and buggies, old folk struggled with them and there were reports of a few falls.

They were designed by architects Rip Fleming of Dundee, and lines were quickly added to make the steps more visible.

There were also grumbles about the car park, specifically the angle between the entrance ramp and the road which many felt was too steep, and caused an alarming jolt unless extra care was taken.

Snagging issues aside, the focus was on the arrival of Wm Low – a major name in the supermarket industry back then..

The store was opened by TV personality and singer, Isla St Clair. She helped draw a raffle with prizes of portable televisions, colour and black and white!

There were 35 money-off coupons printed in our free newspaper, the Fife Leader, while in-store, Tennent’s lager was a steal at 25p per tin as was “that new favourite”, Bailey’s Irish cream.

The store boasted a cheese counter, a deli, a large non-goods section which had everything from bedding to DIY, a self-service restaurant for 125, and a cigarette kiosk.

It employed 150 full and part-time staff with John Allardyce from the Berwick store as manager. Andy Anderson – a weel kent face from Wm Low’s High Street store –the grocery manager, Allan Carmouche in charge of fresh foods, Jim Mercer at butchery counter, and Douglas Kerr services manager.

Said John: “The Postings branch will offer far superior shopping facilities than anywhere else in Kirkcaldy – because of the extra space we will carry a far wider range of goods, which means customers can do their shopping under one roof.

The name of Wm Low hung above the door until it was taken over by Tesco in 1994. Just 21 years later it was left empty as the retail giant quit town ...