Potential boost brewing for Hawick as Costa eyes up old shop site

The old WHSmith premises in Hawick High Street.
The old WHSmith premises in Hawick High Street.

Cafe culture could be heading to Hawick now the world’s second largest coffee chain has announced plans to move into the High Street’s former WH Smith store.

The stationer closed its doors in the town at the end of 2014, an exit seen at the time as a hammer blow for the already-struggling High Street.

The Costa cafe in Peebles.

The Costa cafe in Peebles.

A spokesman for the chain expressed both disappointment at the closure and the hope of a return “should a suitable alternative premises become available”, a move that has not yet transpired.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer is delighted at the news of Costa’s potential arrival.

Mr McAteer, also honorary provost, said: “It’s just great news for the town. I know it is early days for this planning application, but it would increase footfall and attract other businesses into the town.

“It’s something myself and councillor Stuart Marshall have been pushing for from company owner Whitbread for some time. I’m not looking to claim all the credit, but we’re delighted with this development.

“Yes, it will create competition, but Costa is a bespoke company and the second biggest coffee chain in the world. It is brilliant that it’s planning to come to Hawick.”

If the planning bid submitted to Scottish Borders Council this week is successful, it will continue the company’s expansion through the region.

Costa, now running more than 2,000 outlets across the UK, opened in a former outfitter’s building at Veitch’s Corner in Peebles last year.

The news of the potential move into Hawick has received a generally positive reaction on social media.

Laura Scott, of Peebles, wrote: “News of Costa coming to Peebles was met with doom, gloom and disaster for local businesses.

“One small restaurant did close, but now we have Fat Face in Peebles, attracted by the success of Costa, so two empty shops have been filled.

“The one in Peebles is busy. I hope it works out in Hawick.”

But an opposing view was expressed by Paul Brough, who said: “It won’t bring people in. It’ll just displace trade from other places. The High Street needs a diversity of businesses not more eating and drinking.”

Costa, billed as the “nation’s favourite coffee shop”, was founded in London in 1971 by the Costa family as a wholesale operation supplying caterers and specialist Italian coffee shops.

Acquired by Whitbread in 1995, it has since grown to run more than 3,400 cafes in 31 countries. Besides its cafe in Peebles High Street, it has a franchise within the Next clothes store in Galashiels and operates Costa Express outlets at the Co-op in Lauder and Jedburgh’s Shell garage.

A new Costa in Hawick would also help fill the gap left by the closure of two of the town’s cafes within weeks of each other earlier this year, Turnbull’s, in Oliver Place, and the New Howegate Cafe, in Howegate.