A mobile phone shop boss about to move his business into new premises in Hawick says he is positive about the town’s retail future.
Within a few weeks, Gary Souden will move his Fonehouse franchise in the town’s High Street into the former Streets Ahead base further down the street.
The move into the larger premises comes as he looks to expand the business.
Mr Souden currently employs one other member of staff, Dan Lenton, but is taking on another employee, Corey Hunter, once the move to the new unit is completed in a few weeks’ time.
He moved to Hawick three years ago with his wife Jacqui, having previously run a Fonehouse outlet in Coatbridge in North Lanarkshire.
Originally from East Kilbride in South Lanarkshire, he says he has fallen in love with the town and its people.
He said: “I really like it down here. It’s so peaceful, and the people are a lot nicer.
“I also found out from a family member that I have connections with Hawick, with my surname originating from Southdean.
“I have been looking for a new location after my landlord put the current premises up for sale and wanted what I regarded as ridiculous money for it.
“I was looking around, and the former Streets Ahead building is in the perfect location. There is a nice feel about it, and it’s a good price.
“I will be renting the High Street outlet until September.
“I would ideally like to open the new outlet and close the old one, but they may both operate together for a time. We’ll have to see.”
Despite concerns over the retail vitality of the town centre and lack of footfall, Mr Souden has a more positive outlook.
He said: “Since I have been here over the last few years, I have seen premises open and others shut, but in general I things have actually got a bit better.
“When outlets such as WH Smith closed, I saw it more as an opportunity for smaller traders to increase their trade.
“I’m positive for the future of Hawick. We wouldn’t be staying here on the High Street if we didn’t think there was a good future ahead.
“As a business, we are growing and offering more services all the time.
“We always have the latest and best handsets available from launch date.
“Four years ago, we only had EE, but now we are adding additional services all the time, including complete business solutions.
“You’re guaranteed a friendly service here, and that won’t change at the new premises.”
The existing Fonehouse is being marketed by George and Jason Oliver, with offers invited in the region of £75,000.
Further High Street properties currently up for sale include the Costcutter convenience store, on sale for £95,000 due to the imminent retirement of the shop’s owner, and the Bank Guest House, with an asking price of £439,995.
Just off the street, in Oliver Place, Deans and Simpson, the stationer, remains on the market at £80,000.