The end: No reprieve as Tesco pulls plug on Kirkcaldy store

The Tesco sign will shine no more in Kirkcaldy
The Tesco sign will shine no more in Kirkcaldy

The fight is over - Tesco has told its staff that it will definitely close in Kirkcaldy in three weeks.

The announcement came just 24 hours after Tesco officials met with Fife Council assessors to discuss ways to reduce its annual £700,000 rate bill at the Hunter Street site.

Yesterday (Wednesday) the store manager at Hunter Street announced management’s final decision to staff.

Cllr Tom Adams, who works at the store, said: “I’m disappointed after all the effort we’ve put in.

‘‘It came to nothing but at the same time we achieved a review which Tesco said at the start would never happen.

‘‘Obviously I’m disappointed that they’ve come to the conclusion they have.”

We have been humbled by the goodwill of customers in Kirkcaldy and regret that it has not been possible to find a way to make the store viable

Tesco spokesman

In January, when Tesco originally announced the store’s closure the firm claimed from the outset that it could find “no route to profitability” in Kirkcaldy.

MP Gordon Brown and Fife Council representatives quickly set to work to build an economic case by reducing its overheads.

Yesterday’s announcement came as a particularly hard blow given “positive” negotiations in recent weeks had already succeeded in substantially reducing Tesco’s £720,000 rent at The Postings.

Gordon Brown MP said. “I am very sad that despite an offer worth £1.3m extra over two years, Tesco has decided to abandon Kirkcaldy for good.

“​Fife has done everything in its power to make it possible for Tesco to stay and there will be anger in the town that despite the offer made to them they have pulled out. ​

“This is a sad day for the 179 staff and for nearly 4,000 elderly people who every week not only use the Post Office franchised to Tesco but the store as well.

He added: “I am grateful to staff, to local shopkeepers and to Fife Council for fighting for the superstore’s survival despite the fact that Tesco has denied Kirkcaldy a second chance.

“It is important that the Post Office will stay on the site for the time being but while Kirkcaldy has been good to Tesco for decades, it is a matter of real regret that Tesco have found it difficult to be as good to Kirkcaldy.”

Cllr Neil Crooks who joined MP Gordon Brown at a meeting with Tesco boss Dave Lewis last month, was “disappointed” to learn of Tesco’s decision through word-of-mouth.

In an email to Mr Lewis yesterday he queried why Tesco officials in their Tuesday meeting with Fife assessors had been looking for cast-iron guarantees about non-domestic rates after 2017.

That was “an impossible ask” he said and he “hoped that was not the catalyst which prompted them to abandon the Kirkcaldy store after all of the progress which had been made”.

Comfirming the closure decision, a Tesco spokesman said: “In January we announced that our performance as a business had fallen significantly short of where we would want it to be and that to protect the future of our business we would close 43 unprofitable stores. It is with great sadness that we confirm our Kirkcaldy store will close on April 4.

‘‘We would like to thank Gordon Brown and Fife Council for all their efforts to keep the store open over recent weeks. Nobody could have done more and we are very grateful to them for exploring all possible routes to improve the viability of the store.

‘‘We have been humbled by the goodwill of customers in Kirkcaldy and regret that it has not been possible to find a way to make the store viable.

‘‘We would like to thank everyone who has shopped with us and to pay tribute to our colleagues in Kirkcaldy for the dedicated service they have given the local community over many years.”