‘Big names’ turned off High Street

Future Hawick is set to spearhead the regeneration of the High Street amid warnings that in five years there may be no big-name stores in town.

Derick Tait and Andrew Farquhar will now focus on bringing in the right mix of people to form a trust with a similar structure to the former Hawick Patrtnership.

Several local traders and business owners have expressed an interest in joining the trust, and speaking after last night’s meeting, Andrew Farquhar said: “Future Hawick is a respected brand name and would provide the ideal vehicle to take this thing forward and I’m happy to assist with this. We need to get the right mix of people involved. Future Hawick is already there, it has offices and everything is in place. This can be up and running within a short space of time.”

But calls to attract an “anchor tenant” to Hawick High Street were scotched by local estate agent Jim Hay, who warned: “I’ve been in touch with several big names and they’re just not interested in coming to Hawick. Low wages and low footfall on the High Street means larger shops are not interested and if anyone thinks otherwise they are very much mistaken. I don’t want to be the harbinger of doom here but I reckon within five years there will be no major names on the High Street.”

And that, according to Mr Farquhar, is something that should worry everyone: “Jim Hay is correct and if this does happen we need to be prepared for it. This town faced massive pay-offs in the knitwear industry and we were not prepared for it. This needs to change we can’t be in this position again.

“If we can’t keep these larger stores here then we have to have viable alternatives in place. This town may well face further bad times but we need to be able to deal with this.”

The former police chief added: “We have had several expressions of interest from good and capable people. And we must welcome that.

“We also need to be able to bring in experts who have had previous experience in this field.

“I’m encouraged and I’m also optimistic for the future.”