As Tesco closes its doors in Kirkcaldy, the final word goes to ... the staff

Long-serving staff at Tesco
Long-serving staff at Tesco

The shutters will fall for a final time at Kirkcaldy’s Tesco at precisely 6.00 p.m. this coming Saturday.

And, behind that closed door there’s likely to be a scene littered with tears and hugs as members of a team which has served the Kirkcaldy community for decades go their separate ways.

Fair to say, over the last four decades staff at Tesco’s in Kirkcaldy - formerly Wm Low’s - have witnessed everything life could throw at them: weddings, births, tragedy and everything in between, including one lucky customer who won £100,000 on a scratchcard.

They would go beyond the call of duty and help elderly shoppers home with their bags and even deliver the occasional telly, it was all part of the service.

But most important of all, they describe how the 180-odd strong team felt like a “big family”- whose antics on staff nights out were so legendary they had to start booking venues in Kinross!

The Press were lucky enough to be able to speak to some of the store’s longest serving staff who gave us an insight into their fondest memories of time spent serving the Kirkcaldy community.

I even had my boss sitting next to me whenI was in labour!

Linda Garrett

Linda Garrett, who worked 35 years at Tesco, starting at the age of 16, is generally regarded as being the “loudest voice and the best elf” on the team.

She said: “Management are so friendly here, I even had my boss sitting next to me whenI was in labour!

“There’s a lot of older people that come in all the time and I’ve swopped kniiting patterns and crochet patterns with many of them, honestly .

“It’s not just a job in here, it’s a community of family, customers and staff.”

Cathy Bell, who worked for 20 years in customer services, said: “What sticks in my mind is that when I started it was the first day when Wm Low started. I’ve seen a lot of changes since then, good and bad, but throughout there’s been quite a few customers who say “I’ll have my usual please” and I know what their usual is.”

Heather Clarke too has a 20 year-long history with the company and said the Tesco team were an unusual workforce in that the atmosphere among members was always postive and friendly.

She said: “The staff have always gotten on really well with one another, like a family really.”

Diane Lawson has the honour of being the store’s longest serving member of staff with 38 years on the books.

She left school in the Decmber 1976 and joined Wm Low on February 1.

She said: “I thought I would get to 40 but, unfortunately not. I’ve worked in all the departments, apart from the trolleys.

Laughing, she added: “A lot of customers would say ’Are you still working in here, hen?’

“The closure was a shock but I’ve managed to get a job at Stuart’s the bakers, starting next week. I’m going to miss the company most.”

Laura Simpson is just one of three members of her family who work at the store - which meant all three faced redundancy at the same time.

“My husband, mum and sister work here too ,” she said.

“It’s been alright - mum’s taking early retirement, I’m going to be a home carer. We just try to be positive.

“It’s hard but it’s one of those things that has happened - you just have to get on with it.”

Janet Wardrop, has accumulated 27 and a half years with the company.

She said: “I started working for Tesco when I was 15 and living in England and then after four years went off to do other things but came back when the kids were young .

“The time flies, I just can’t believe it - you see customers get married, fall pregnant and then you see their children with babies. “

“There’s a couple who come in here every morning for their coffee.”

Leigh Mackay said: “I’m the baby because I joined in 2006. My daughter was two when I started and I only planned to work here until she started school and then I had two sons.

“The staff were really supportive to me during the pregnancies.

“We are one big family because you could feel really down and then you come in her - that’s why everyone stays so long.”

“To customers we want to say thank you for sticking by us !”

Manager Sharon Duchan told the Press many members of staff had asked to work the final Saturday.

They plan to mark the last shift with a giant selfie after the shutters come down.

She added: “I’ve only been here a year and feel just as sad as everybody else because the care and consideration shown for each other in here is absolutely amazing.

“They totally understood it because they experienced how quiet the store had become.”

She also urged clubcard customers to snap up cards in store this week, giving a year’s free delivery to the home.

The fight was worth fighting

Cllr Tom Adams who works at the store, along with his wife, said: “Since it was announced Tesco was finally going to close, everybody’s mood just changed and accepted it.

“A lot of tears are being shed now because some people are actually leaving and working their last shifts - it’s getting quite emotional for a lot of people.

“Like Val McDermid said Tesco here is not so much a supermarket it’s more like a corner shop.”

He was pleased to report that around 50 members of staff had secured alternative employment.

Cllr Adams fought alongside Gordon Brown, Cllr Neil Crooks and MSP David Torrance to persuade Tesco to reverse its closure decision - and he was disappointed the attempt failed in the end.

But, he added: “I couldn’t have stood by, coming from a mining background, and watch something close without putting up a fight.”