THERE was delight in Kelso this week with the long-awaited news that the Co-op has confirmed that it intends reopening at least part of the former Haldanes store in the town’s Roxburgh Street, writes Mark Entwistle.
Closed by Haldanes just over a year ago with the loss of 50 jobs, the premises belongs to a London-based company, Threadneedle Investments.
However, the Co-op leases the building and still has more than 20 years of the agreement with Threadneedle Investments to run.
The past year has seen a worrying drop in trade for the other businesses situated in Roxburgh Street – as well as the nearby town centre – since the closure of Haldanes.
But TheSouthern reported as long ago as March of this year that there was speculation building that the Co-op intended reopening the closed supermarket.
And this week, a spokesperson for The Co-operative Food told us: “We are pleased to confirm we intend to reopen part of the former Haldanes store, in Roxburgh Street, Kelso, as a Co-operative food convenience store.
“The new store will be approximately 3,500 sq ft, will create up to 20 new jobs, and will be in addition to the existing Co-operative food store in Highcroft, Kelso, which will remain open.
“We expect the new store to open later this year, and we are currently seeking to let the remainder of the building to another retailer.
“The Co-operative Group is the UK’s largest mutual business, owned not by private shareholders but by more than 7,000,000 consumers.
“It is Scotland’s fourth biggest food retailer, and the leading convenience store operator.
“A new store in Kelso will create new jobs and will complement our existing outlet in the town, while providing an asset for the local community.”
Local Scottish Borders councillor Tom Weatherston, who has long called for the Roxburgh Street premises to be reopened as a supermarket, was pleased to hear the news.
“I am delighted that it appears the Co-op has overcome issues with the Roxburgh Street store and hopefully it will reopen in the near future,” he told TheSouthern this week.
“It is great news for the town centre residents and the traders, who were suffering a big reduction in footfall around that area.
“There are a lot of people who live in the town centre and visitors from Springwood Park, who I am sure will welcome this news.”
And local community councillor Colin McGrath, who has also lobbied the Co-op long and hard over the empty store, was equally pleased.
“This will be a very welcome development for the town and will give a boost to customer footfall in Roxburgh Street, where traders have been really struggling over the past year,” he said.
“It will help the regeneration of Roxburgh Street, which, to be frank, has been dying on its feet since Haldanes closed.
“It also means more employment for Kelso as well. This part of the town needs a supermarket, as do many of the people attending events at Springwood Park who don’t all want to tramp up the hill to Sainsbury’s.
“So I think this news will do a great deal to give a lift to the spirits of the people of Kelso.”