High Street optimism despite more Kirkcaldy closures

Happier times for Store Twenty One staff when the Kirkcaldy outlet opened in April 2015.
Happier times for Store Twenty One staff when the Kirkcaldy outlet opened in April 2015.

Business on Kirkcaldy High Street is “holding its own” and continuing to diversify, despite the economic challenges and the announcement of more store closures.

That’s the view of of town centre group Kirkcaldy4All which point to a number of recent additions including several shops and food outlets at the east end of the town.

But while the signs are positive for some, the harsh economic realities for more seasoned retailers continues to cast uncertainty.

A scenario perfectly illustrated by the demise of fashion and furnishings outlet Store Twenty One, set to close just 15 months after opening, and the closure of one of the Greggs outlets after 10 years of trading.

“Obviously it’s disappointing to see any business fail and the closures of BHS and Store Twenty One are very unfortunate, most notably for those employees who are affected,” said Kirkcaldy4All’s Bill Harvey.

“But while shopping habits have changed in the last four or five years, those closures are affected more by failing business models and reasons out with our control.

“In comparison to many other towns of a similar size Kirkcaldy is in good health and there are new businesses set to open shortly.”

That optimism tempers the news that Store Twenty One is to close its two Fife shops with the loss of up to 24 jobs.

With £2.6m owed to the tax office, the chain’s owners, Indian textile group Grabal Alok, which employs over one thousand staff at its 202 stores across the UK, announced last week that it had appointed Alix Partners Services UK to oversee a restructuring of the company.

That will result in the closure of 77 unprofitable stores, including those in Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes.

The closure of Greggs is the result of the expansion of its other shop within the Mercat Centre which will open on Saturday after a refurbishment to provide a cafe area within the adjoining former Perfume Shop unit.

Four employees are transferring directly to the new expanded Greggs, while two more are relocating to stores elsewhere.

Kirkcaldy MP Roger Mullin welcomed the Greggs expansion though admits there is also an element of concern.

“This could potentially result in yet another empty retail unit at the east end of the main thoroughfare, in an area that is already in need of further regeneration,” he said.

“The store has been a feature of Kirkcaldy for many years, providing great service and good food to passing shoppers, and local students and workers.”