Future of NGT store may be secured by shared occupancy
THE loss of Selkirk’s Co-op NGT store would be a huge blow to the town, a local councillor has claimed as speculation over its future mounts.
It is understood that the store’s owner, The Co-operative Group, is examining its options due to continued trading difficulties at the furniture and electrical premises.
These include sharing the store with a non-food retailer.
Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar said staff had been told at a meeting that there would be changes at the store, with the sharing of floor space being looked at as a way to keep it open.
However, Mr Edgar said he was concerned about the developments, and what the future may bring if the store was to close.
He added: “It is a worry for staff and the town. It is a big building and to have it sitting empty at the entrance of Selkirk would not look good for the town. I believe at one time it was one of the best-performing stores in the country. But it may be that the economic recession has affected business.”
Fellow Selkirkshire councillor Michelle Ballantyne believes that the store, and staff, are safe for the time being.
She said: “Co-op NGT, like most businesses, regularly review their operational activity and try to ensure that they make sensible decisions that secure their viability.
“I understand that there is no immediate threat to the business and I welcome any moves that will ensure that they can continue to operate profitably in Selkirk.”
The store currently employs 16 staff, 12 of them full-time.
A spokesperson for The Co-operative Group said: “The Selkirk store became part of The Co-operative Group following the merger in 2008 between The Co-operative Group and the Lothian and Borders Societies.
“Since then, every effort has been made to find a way to continue to operate the furniture and bed store on a sustainable basis, but trading conditions remain challenging.”
He added: “We remain open-minded regarding the future of the Selkirk store and are looking at a number of options, including interest from other retailers in sharing occupancy.
“This is in no way a reflection on the staff who continue to make every effort to make the store a success in a tough trading environment.”
At the end of last month The Co-operative Group applied to Scottish Borders Council for clarification about planning conditions on the Dunsdalehaugh store.
The firm is aiming to obtain a certificate of lawfulness confirming that the sale of any non-food retail items in the store is legal. Lawyers for the retailer have examined the wording of the original planning conditions and believe that the wording of a condition relating to the use of the store does not rule out unrestricted non-food retail use.
The council has set April 28 as the date by which it will have made a decision on The Co-operative’s application.
The company refused to comment on the application to the local authority, or on whether the store had been put up for sale.
Lothian and Borders Co-operative Society was given planning permission to build the store at Dunsdalehaugh in May 1998, the same year it absorbed the East Angus Co-operative Society.
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 20 C
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