McEwens of Perth to close with 64 jobs lost

It began trading almost 150 years ago, when it was set up to 'satisfy the fashion requirements of Perthshire ladies' and grew into Scotland's largest independent and family-run department store chain.

McEwens of Perth began trading in 1868 but is now to close. Picture: Ian Rutherford
McEwens of Perth began trading in 1868 but is now to close. Picture: Ian Rutherford

But now McEwens of Perth is to close its doors after falling into administration.

The company, which started out making made to measure garments in its own tailoring workshop in 1868, expanded over the following century to include menswear, lingerie, cosmetics, shoes and a restaurant, as well as a homewares section.

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Owners the Bullough family, who bought the shop in 1982, said yesterday that negotiations with the bank had failed and they had been forced to put the company into administration with KPMG, with 110 staff now facing redundancy.

A total of 64 workers have already been told they have lost their jobs, while 46 are being retained to wind up the store’s operations.

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McEwens has two outlets in Perth, as well as premises in Oban, Argyll and Bute, and Ballater, Aberdeenshire.

The Inverness store closed in 2013 in a bid to “preserve the profitability of other branches”.

The firm’s Ballater and Oban stores were yesterday closed with immediate effect, while a closing down sale in Perth was due to start today.

John and Georgina Bullough said: “It is with great sadness and regret that we have had to put McEwens of Perth into administration today.

“Despite our exhaustive search for investor and partner solutions, all negotiations with the bank have failed and unfortunately we have run out of options.”

Joint administrator Blair Nimmo added: “Despite the directors’ best efforts, McEwens of Perth continued to incur trading losses as a result of the many challenges being felt by the retail sector.”

In recent years, the retailer has struggled to turn a profit, with its last set of accounts showing a pre-tax loss of £56,328 for the year to 31 January 2015, although this was down from a deficit of £79,724 the previous year.

In 2010, McEwens was placed into Royal Bank of Scotland’s “turnaround” arm, the Global Restructuring Group, but has since struggled to get extra financing from potential investors.