McEwens of Perth staff plan closure celebrations

Staff prepare for closure of the last McEwens of Perth store in St John street, Perth. Picture Ian Rutherford
Staff prepare for closure of the last McEwens of Perth store in St John street, Perth. Picture Ian Rutherford
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A GRAND final fling is to be held by staff of department story McEwens of Perth as the 149-year-old shop prepares to shut for good - with the loss of 64 jobs.

McEwens, which was owned by the daughter and son-in-law of the last Earl of Mansfield, announced in March that it was going into administration.

Company chairman John Bullough and his wife Lady Georgina blamed the post-2008 credit crunch and the rise of the internet and out-of-town shopping for its demise.

Now, as an end-of-days sale continued this week at the shop’s only branch to remain open - the principal store in St John’s Street, Perth - staff are organising a celebration in true “Upstairs Downstairs”.

The firm’s last head porter in Perth, Derek Henderson, is working with staff and musicians for the send-off on 20 May.

READ MORE: McEwens of Perth to close with 64 jobs lost

He said: It was a great shame, and a great shock when it went into administration. It was all very sudden.”

The event will be held at the 1699 Salutation Hotel, opposite the McEwens buildings, and once also owned by the same Scone Palace aristocratic family.

Mr Henderson said: “I have enjoyed some fantastic times, and speaking to other staff they did too. We wanted to ensure there was a bit of a happy ending for the company’s staff.

“While I was only there for six years, it felt like longer because it was like becoming part of a family. I was welcomed by colleagues. The staff had a camaraderie, one which I miss and will do for some time.

“I am sure there will be some brilliant stories and anecdotes from through the years.”

Meanwhile, gentlemen’s outfitters Brook Taverner and Austin Reed - which both had concessions in the centre store - have been linked with the high profile site.

READ MORE: Retail chiefs in call to protect the High Street

At the time of the administrators’ appointment, McEwens employed 110 staff, 97 of which were based in Perth, nine in Ballater and four in Oban.

Sixty-four members of staff were made redundant with immediate effect, while 46 others remained to help administrators KPMG.

The stores in Ballater and Oban were closed with immediate effect.