Kirkcaldy M&S closure: High Street’s West End traders voice their fears

Kevin Reid outside Manifesto
Kevin Reid outside Manifesto

The west end of the High Street may be one step removed from M&S –but it may still feel the impact of its closure.

In recent years the area has been relying more and more on its night-time economy to fill the units left vacant by shops moving out.

James Brown of Broadway Carpets

James Brown of Broadway Carpets

Most retailers say the decline in footfall from the centre’s biggest store would have a detrimental impact on their businesses – and some felt it had been on the cards since the closure of Tesco in 2015.

James Brown, owner of Broadway Carpets, which only opened four months ago, said: “That is very sad news and will have a massive impact on the whole of the High Street.

“Our business has been going okay, but this will definitely mean a drop in people coming down. I know many people just come down to go to Marks & Spencer.”

Kirkcaldy M&S closure - East End traders have their say

Nigel Coombs owner of Hairdo

Nigel Coombs owner of Hairdo

Jane Fraser, sales assistant in Canterbury Bells, florists, said: “The High Street is getting pretty pathetic as all the shops are leaving to go to the retail park.

“There’s going to be nothing left to bring people in and that is very sad. There are so many empty shops in the centre now.”

Kevin Reid, manager of Manifesto, said: “On a personal level it is a massive blow and I do most of my shopping in M&S.

“However, on a business level, without sounding arrogant, no matter what happens in Kirkcaldy, people seem to continue to come to shop here as we offer quite specialist clothing.

“Fife Council has to be complicit with the way it charges for parking and allowing businesses to open at the retail park.

“This closure is going to be pretty disasterous for the town.”

Nigel Coombs, owner of Hairdo hair salon, said: “Marks & Spencer has been there all my life and is a vital part of the High Street, so it is really disappointing that it is going.

“It is going to kill the centre, because the only big retailers left will be Debenhams and New Look and people aren’t going to come down just for them. Then there’s also the worry about B&M. Are they going to stay after their lease runs out?”

Javid Chaudry, of Newsplus, said: “I think we saw it coming. First it was Tesco then Next and Poundstretcher went.

“What’s killing us is the rates and the parking doesn’t help either. I have been here 18 years now and it’s sad to see the decline.”

Zafer Kilic, of Baba’s Bistro, said: “It is the end of the High Street. Everything started with Tesco leaving.

“I think it will have a knock-on effect on trade during the day time as we get a lot of passing trade.”

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Fraser Cook, of BE Schoolwear, said: “Although it will take away a lot of footfall from the High Street, it will probably help us as more people will come here to buy their children’s school uniforms here.”

Natalie Smith, of The Penny Farthing pub said: “The general consensus here is that M&S is one of the last places in the High Street that brings in any business. It is going to be pretty desolate when it goes.”

Perrin Alston, of Perrin’s Tailoring and Alterations, said: “So many shops are closing down and people are scared about what’s going to happen to the High Street. This is a big shock and it’s bound to have some affect on other businesses.”

Lynn McLeary, of The Chocolate Box newsagents and confectioners, said: “This is a big shock. Ever since Tesco went, the High Street has been dying.

“I have been here for 22 years and my elderly customers come in here to pay their paper bill then go along to M&S.

“They will be badly affected by this.”