As one door closes …

From Kirkcaldy4All’s BID manager, Bill Harvey …

“It is just three years after M&S opened its out of town store in Kirkcaldy. The shift to out of town trading was predicted by many to cause serious damage to town and city centres across the country. But it is not only the out of town stores that are changing our towns. Every national retailer is undergoing seismic changes to their trading – with an ever-increasing shift to online.

Earlier this year, M&S announced they would start a massive programme of store closures – one in three of its core clothing and home branches. Even at today’s figures, high street stores only account for 28% of the company’s bricks and mortar outlets. They no longer see the value in being in our towns and cities. In recent months they’ve closed stores in London, Manchester, Leeds, York, Aberdeen, Brighton, Milton Keynes … and numerous others …

We’re saddened by the news that M&S has decided to close their Kirkcaldy store in 2019. They’ve been an anchor in the town since they opened in the summer of 1938. Many Kirkcaldy folk have been employed by the company over the last 80 years and we feel very sorry for those employees affected by this announcement.

As with every high street and town centre across the country, we’re facing challenging times: many national retailed are completely altering the way they trade – shifting more online than ever before as customer habits and demands change.

As Scotland’s longest high street, we feel those shockwaves more than most. We can either ‘do nothing’ which isn’t an option – or we can work hard to change the way our town trades. We are investing time and resource to review Kirkcaldy’s offering and plan for tomorrow. We can’t force national retailers to stay, but we can encourage new businesses. That’s our focus. We are working on plans for the BID’s 2020-2025 term – and our emphasis is on our great and growing independent offering.

We have a higher percentage of independents than the rest of the UK – many of whom are award-winning businesses, investing in Kirkcaldy and employing and training their workforce from in and around the town.

We will be sorry to see M&S go. But we will do all we can to showcase Kirkcaldy as a destination for people to live, work and enjoy. And where we can help new businesses to start and thrive, we will work hard with our community partners and stakeholders to make that happen.”

Thank you for reading.