Kirkcaldy’s High Street has been dealt another blow with the news that Next and Semi-Chem are set to close.
On the plus side, some empty stores have been refurbished ahead of new tenants moving in.
But the loss of Next will be seen as a big blow.
It used to have two stores on the High Street – one for childrenswear on the corner of Tolbooth Street, as well as its main store.
It now has a flagship store at Fife Retail Park on the outskirts of town.
Next con firmed, the doors will close on its High Street shop in March.
A spokesman said: “We can confirm that this store will be closing on March 31.
‘We are currently in discussions with the store staff to transfer where suitable positions are available.”
The shop has nine full and part-time empoloyees.
Staff at Semi-Chem, the discount health and beauty shop which opened in Kirkcaldy in 2000, have also received confirmation that the shop is to close at the end of February.
A company spokesman said: “The store in Kirkcaldy has been financially challenged for some time, and the continued decline in footfall has unfortunately led to the decision to close the store.
“Over the past few years, we’ve looked at several options to try and turn the store around.
“Unfortunately we’ve now ended up in the position where closure of the store is the only option available.
“We’re still in discussions with the eight staff members, two full-time and six part-time, with our first option being to transfer them to other stores in the area.’’
Bill Harvey manager of Kirkcaldy4All, Kirkcaldy’s Business Improvement District, said that shops were currently being renovated for new tenants.
“We currently have three or four units being done up and we are hopeful that they will soon be filled,” he s aid .
‘‘I am very disappointed that Next and Semi-Chem are going and I hope that the staff are being looked after and redeployed where possible.
“In the case of Next, once the shop opened at the retail park, against the wishes of Fife Council planners, overturned by the Scottish Government Reporter, that was a massive blow to the High Street and continues to be a massive blow.”
There is speculation that New Look is looking to cull 10 pe cent of its 600 UK stores. The company said it could not comment on its High Street outlet.
Retail park challenge to centre
Councillor Neil Crooks, chairman of Kirkcaldy area committee says Kirkcaldy is not alone in suffering from changing shopping trends.
“We can’t just complain about the loss of stores which is the modern tragedy of town centres without talking up the very committed people who continue to provide services in and around our’s,” he said.
“Fife Retail Park is an added challenge to the town centre and while jobs are welcome anywhere, I’m concerned at the recent decisions of the Scottish Government reporter which overturned the decisions of the central area planning committee, which tried to protect the interests of the town centre.
“Historically, town centre rates were always higher as these businesses attracted more customers but that has not been the case for years. When the Scottish Government announced it would empower local government in relation to decisions on non-domestic rates I hoped the council could affect change to better reflect business rates.
However, while we could cut rates, we were not allowed to raise them elsewhere to balance the books. So if we cut rates then we have to cut other budgets like education to pay the Scottish Government which is not sensible.
“Tesco and BHS were big hits on employment and closures in the future will exacerbate the situation.
“We will continue to work with partners to create opportunities to encourage investors to consider Kirkcaldy as a positive destination for their business.”