Hawick convenience store boss fears supermarket sweep

Kathryn and George McCusker outside their Dickson Street Spar store.
Kathryn and George McCusker outside their Dickson Street Spar store.

A Hawick convenience store boss with 50 years in the trade is bracing himself for two new town supermarkets eating into his business and that of other local retailers.

A revamped Lidl store is to open in Wilton Path next month, and a new £5m Aldi store is to follow in Commercial Road this spring.

Both outlets will provide much-needed jobs for the town, but both will also remain open until 10 o’clock in the evening, offering stiff competition for the late-night trade that is currently the bread and butter of the town’s Spar convenience store in Dickson Street, run by George and Kathryn McCusker.

Mr McCusker and his wife fought a long but ultimately unsuccessful battle to prevent the Aldi supermarket from opening, launching a petition against it and enlisting the support of the Scottish Grocers’ Association in their campaign.

They claimed the new development represented unfair competition to other traders in an already-crowded retail market.

Veteran trader Mr McCusker also believes it’s not just his premises that will feel the impact of four big-name supermarket chains vying for custom.

“Every small business will be affected – the bike shops, the tool shops, everyone – and that’s before you consider the impact it will have on an already-struggling High Street,” he said.

Mr McCusker, also boss of Burnfoot Post Office, added: “I’ve just seen the sign saying Lidl will be open until 10 at night. That’s veering into the convenience store market.

“We’re open from 5.30am to 10pm every day, even over Christmas and new year. Now, the supermarkets are creeping ever closer.

“My argument has been, and remains, that there are just too many supermarkets in Hawick for a small town, and I know that Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and B&M are going to be hit by this new competition.”

A spokesman for Aldi said the firm would create 30 new jobs in the town and had carried out a public consultation exercise, with 92 per cent of visitors to a public exhibition expressing support for the new store being built on the former mill site.

Lidl plans to create 25 new jobs at its stores in Hawick and Kelso. The cut-price retailer is creating new positions including store managers, customer assistants and caretakers.

A Lidl spokesman said: “The shop floor is the beating heart of our business. It’s the front line, so it’s only natural we want to hire great people.”

Hawick’s Sainsbury’s store currently opens until 9pm and its Morrisons until an hour later, except on Sundays.