Following news that Debenhams is set to close around 50 stores in the UK as a result of falling revenue, Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Murdo Fraser, has called on the First Minister to support our high street with a competitive tax regime in order to preserve jobs.
Debenhams has four stores across Mid-Scotland and Fife in Perth, Dunfermline, Stirling and Kirkcaldy and hundreds of roles are both directly and indirectly supported by the retailer.
The flagship Perth store sits in the centre of the high street and acts as an “anchor tenant” drawing visitors to the town. Murdo believes its loss would have a detrimental impact on other city centre retailers.
Perth and Kinross Council have already been in touch with Debenhams to offer the retailer support to keep it open.
Debenhams has 166 stores across the UK and plans to close 50 of them will undoubtedly see its Scottish footprint shrink.
Commenting Murdo Fraser MSP said:
“Today’s news from Debenhams is bitterly disappointing but hardly unexpected when you consider the current retail conditions and their plummeting share price.
“A smaller, nimbler retail offering might please shareholders but this will no doubt come at the cost of jobs.
“In their four locations across Perth and Kinross, Fife and Stirling, Debenhams supports hundreds of jobs and we need to see action from the Scottish Government to protect these roles.
“The ‘high street’ still has a future, but current trading conditions in addition to extortionate business rates and poor infrastructure is rendering it unprofitable to large retailers.
“Debenhams has been a fixture on Perth High Street for years and the loss of the store here would be a devastating blow to the city’s retail offering.
“I spoke today to the Leader of Perth and Kinross Council, Murray Lyle, who assures me that the Council has already been in touch with Debenhams to offer their support. This is just the pro-active approach that is needed to try and ensure that we save the store here.
“However, the Scottish Government has a key role to play here. The SNP’s high tax regime has pushed retailers to the brink of profitability and it is high time we saw incentives for traditional businesses and this should start in Derek Mackay’s next budget.”