Glenrothes shops are taken over by Co-op

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Three Glenrothes convenience stores may soon have a new owner as part of a major takeover, reports MIKE DELANEY.

The shops in Kinglassie, Markinch, and Thornton are among 28 which the Co-op wants to buy from the David Sands chain.

But the move has been criticised because it comes just four months after the Co-op closed its Glenrothes town centre store, bringing an end to a near 50 year presence in the town centre and the end of their livelihoods for dozens of staff.

The two companies have agreed the deal, but it has to be given the go-ahead by the Office of Fair Trading.

If it is, as expected, given the go ahead, staff at the stores at High Street, Markinch and Kinglassie and Thornton Main Streets, will switch to the Co-operative Group’s Food business.

Operations director, John McNeill, said: “We’re looking forward to building on the long tradition David Sands has of serving local communities in Fife.

“This major acquisition is another important step in our plans to expand and we look forward to woorking with the team from David Sands.

These stores will significantly strengthen our position in the area, while complementing our existing ones.”

David Sands is currently celebrating its 200th anniversary and as well as Fife, it has stores around its Kinross base and in Perthshire.

Chief executive, David Sands, added that the deal offered a “fantastic opportunity” for investment in the stores and staff and there were many similarities between the two companies, including being responsible retailers and supporting local suppliers.

But one customer said he would not be shopping at the stores if the takeover went ahead.

Gilbert Chaplin said: “What I find most disturbing and incredible to believe is that the Co-op shut down the store in the Kingdom Centre and now have the cheek to say you want to expand.

“Whilst I am a daily customer with a few David Sands stores in my vicinity, I am a local shopper and after closure of the Co-op in Glenrothes, at this present time I would not be prepared to deal with any shops/stores related to the Co-operative.

Mr Chaplin called-on the Co-op to give an explanation of their policy, “which does not include the usual cost-cutting, job-saving exercises.”

A Co-op spokesman said: ““We operate a number of food stores in Glenrothes,and the acquisition of nearby outlets from David Sands will complement these, and allow us to serve additional local communities.

“The closure of The Co-operative Food store in Glenrothes, last year, was because of the store’s poor trading performance, and was taken with the greatest reluctance.”

When the Marchmont Gate store shut its doors, it meant that there was no Co-op in central Glenrothes for the first time since 1964, when the Albany Gate branch - also now closed - first opened.