Shoppers reacted with shock and sadness at the sudden closure of Lees Butchers on Kelso’s Bridge Street and Main Street, Yetholm, last week.
Window notices posted on Tuesday informed customers that Lees would be closed until further notice, and thanked them for their years of custom.
Donny Cockburn and Stuart McNulty bought George Lees’ Morebattle and Yetholm butcheries, where both men learned the trade, when Mr Lees retired in 2005. They expanded the business into Kelso in 2007, renaming Mitchell’s Bridge Street butchery and deli as Lees. They closed the Morebattle shop, but they served the area’s villages with a butchers’ van.
Councillor Simon Mountford said: “I was absolutely gobsmacked. As a Yetholm resident, I’m very sad we’ve lost our butcher. It was a feather in our cap, having such first-rate quality. The village has lost an important service. The whole community feels very upset, because we appreciated them so much.”
Kelso councillor Alec Nicol added: “It’s a tragedy for those losing their jobs.”
TheSouthern understands one Yetholm butcher has found work in North Berwick.
Louise Stewart, who co-owns Lees’ Bridge Street premises, announced the Kelso shop would reopen as a traditional butcher in April, employing two former Lees staff.
Town consensus blames Lees’ demise on a double whammy: the economic downturn and the 2011 opening of Sainsbury’s, on the outskirts of Kelso, which changed shopping habits.