High Street in crisis

WH Smith is to close its Hawick branch.
WH Smith is to close its Hawick branch.

Hawick’s ailing High Street was dealt a hammer blow this week with the news that several shops are to close their doors within weeks.

Rumours circulating the town about WH Smith earlier in the week were confirmed in an email to the Hawick News on Wednesday afternoon, and the closing down signs were posted in Yeoman’s windows early yesterday (Thursday).

In a statement, sent to us before their workers were informed, a WH Smith spokesperson said: “We can confirm that our store in Hawick will be closing at the end of December. We are disappointed to be losing our presence in the town and should a suitable alternative premises become available we would look into this.”

A source at Yeoman’s told the Hawick News: “We wondered if this was coming. It’s the worst news. We are making money and meeting targets but they’ve pulled the plug. It’s just not good.”

And things got worse with the news that Brydon’s Bakery and Restaurant is closing, as well as vintage furniture
and home accessory shop Room 7.

A Room 7 spokesperson said: “Yes, we are closing in March.” Several calls to Brydon’s Bakery were unsuccessful.

Brian Bouglas, who owns the It’s Great Outdoors at Tower Knowe, confirmed he’s closing on Christmas Eve, saying: “We just can’t sustain this. We are taking money out instead of putting money in.” A Poundstretcher source said: “We’re leaving, we just don’t know when.”

It’s less than a week since local estate agent Jim Hay predicted that within five years the High Street would be devoid of big names.

The news sparked fears over other national retailers and the Hawick News understands that M&Co has written to other High Street businesses asking for guidance prior to a rent review. One source told us: “M&Co are paying in the region of £65,000 rent and must be paying £25,000 rates per year. So they are having to find approximately £90,000 before they open their doors.”

In total, around 16 workers face redundancy and Councillor Watson McAteer, who is involved in the High Street regeneration group, said: “News that WH Smith plan to close their doors at the end of December is very bad news. This, and the other closures, make our regeneration ambitions much more difficult and every effort must be made to see what options are available.”