Business collapse leaves Comhairle out of pocket

Thousands of pounds are now owed to local firms following the demise of the WeeW store in Stornoway.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have lodged a claim for £125,163.97 as part of the liquidation process which includes Non Domestic Rates, rent and refuse charges.

Businesses and organisations owed money from WeeW Ltd listed by the administrators Campbell Dallas include Point 1 Ltd, Innes Macleod; Caledonian MacBrayne; the Caladh Inn; Gordon Diesel Services Ltd; HM Customs and Excise; Acair Limited; Hebridean Hygiene Ltd; Hebrides Alpha Recycling Ltd; Hebrides Alpha Trading; Intermedia Services; Isles FM; Macaulay College; Mann Judd Gordon; Stag Bakeries; Stornoway Amenity Trust; Stornoway Trust; Stornoway Business Services Ltd and Stornoway Glass Company.

The total sum owed is believed to be around half a million pounds.

The building, which is owned by the council, is currently being used as Santa’s Grotto in the run up to Christmas, but has been advertised for lease.

A Comhairle spokesperson said: “The Comhairle has recently advertised the former Wee W store for lease and is currently dealing with a number of enquiries.
The closure of the store meant another vacant property in the town centre.

A report published by the University of Stirling’s Institute for Retail Studies and the Local Data Company (LDC) on Scotland’s top 100 cities and towns shows that one in five Scottish towns have vacancy rates of 20 per cent or more, with 70 per cent of vacant property in a third of Scottish cities and towns having been empty for more than a year.

An average of 14.5% Scottish shops are lying empty, higher than the British average of 14.1%.

Banff and Huntly have the highest vacancy rates of over 30%, while Inverurie has the lowest at 2%. Inverness is the city with the highest vacancy rate at 18%.

The report also highlights the importance of independent retailing to Scotland’s towns, while stating that retail diversity in the Scottish cities, with the exception of Perth, fell between 2012 and 2013.

Sixty Scottish towns and cities have over 100 shops, with Glasgow highlighted as Scotland’s premier shopping city with over 5,000 shops.

David McCorquodale, Head of Retail at KPMG, said: “This data clearly shows that Scottish high streets are polarizing between the thriving and the merely surviving. 

“With one in five shops lying empty in 20% of Scottish towns, it is vital we pinpoint and tackle the key issues causing these vacancies.

“There is no quick fix. In most cases it is necessary to reduce the amount of shops on the high street and bring back leisure and residential use, to reinvigorate the high street, allowing it to evolve to meet the needs of the modern consumer.

This week’s report and debate is an important start to help inform the future reconfiguration, and ultimate rescue, of the heartland of our local communities.”