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Shock blow for city

Family store McEwens to close with 64 job losses

McEwens of PerthHistoric department store McEwens of Perth, an institution in the city, is to close and will be placed in administration with the loss of 64 jobs.

A spokeswoman said that despite an exhaustive search for investment, the 148-year-old family firm had run out of options.

In a statement, chairman and managing director John Bullough said: “Despite these difficulties, we have worked hard with little to no working capital but with fantastic and loyal staff, to make McEwens the very best it could be.

“Sadly this has not delivered the increase in trade that was necessary to keep the business solvent.”

Blair Nimmo and Tony Friar of KPMG were appointed as Joint Administrators at lunchtime.

McEwens employed 110 staff, 97 of which were based in Perth, nine employees in Ballater and four employees in Oban.

The administrators have had to make 64 employees redundant, with 46 (33 from Perth, nine from Ballater, four from Oban) remaining to assist them.

The stores in Ballater and Oban have closed with immediate effect while the Perth store will reopen from Friday 25 March for the closing down sale.

The company, established in 1868, began as a women’s fashion retailer. In 1982 the business was acquired by the Bullough family who expanded its range to include quality homeware.

Last year it plunged into the red after showing signs of recovery.

Mr Bullough blamed the slump at that time on its reliance on under-performing concessionary outlets.

It closed loss-making branches in Aberdeen and Inverness and made significant write-offs. McEwens’ consolidated turnover for the 12 months to January this year was down 19% at £5.337 million.

After interest and other charges, the group made a pre-tax loss of £25,709, a setback after last year when its profit before tax of £80,602 was McEwens’ first in four years.

Mr Nimmo said: “Despite the directors’ best efforts, McEwens of Perth continued to incur trading losses as a result of the many challenges being felt by the retail sector. Inevitably this has led to the unfortunate demise of a well-known and highly-regarded brand.

“We have started a closing down sale in a bid to realise assets, and are grateful to the remaining staff for their efforts and assistance. We are working with those staff made redundant to ensure they receive the necessary support from relevant agencies.”  

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