Outfitter becomes city's first high-profile victim of crunch

ONE of the Capital's oldest menswear institutions has become the city's first high-profile victim of the economic downturn.

Capital Menswear, which has traded in Edinburgh for nearly 30 years, has gone into liquidation after suffering a huge drop in turnover in recent months.

The company, which has been based at Meadowbank Retail Park since moving from Dundas Street in 2002, also blamed competition from supermarkets selling cheap suits for its demise.

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It saw revenues in the summer plunge nearly 50 per cent below the same period last year as the credit crunch hit consumer spending.

All three full-time and one part-time members of staff are to lose their jobs, although the company's directors are helping them secure new posts elsewhere. The company stopped trading earlier this month and liquidator French Duncan has now been appointed to sell off the remaining stock and formally close the business.

Craig Martin, managing director of Capital, said: "Things have been tough but we could have got past it if it wasn't for the credit crunch.

"Changes to people's disposable income have kicked in and in the last three months it's dropped dramatically."

He also said that the growing competition from supermarkets had hit trade. "You can get a suit with your tin of beans for 19.99 and there is no competing with that," he said.

"It's a throwaway society we live in now. These supermarket suits are like cardboard but it is the convenience people want.

"It used to be that people would come in and try on a suit then say they'll have a look elsewhere and come back. I've not heard that in eight years. People just won't take the time to shop any more."

The company said in 2002 that it had been driven out of Dundas Street by the tough stance of parking enforcers, with hundreds of customers having complained about the restrictions to parking outside its shop.

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But Mr Martin admitted that trade had never been the same since the move to Meadowbank, where it has to pay rates of more than 100,000 a year.

The move away from the city centre is also said to have damaged attempts to keep trade following the arrival of Slater Menswear in Edinburgh.

Eileen Blackburn, a partner at French Duncan, said: "It is one of these cases where the company is not necessarily culpable because it was a good, well-run company that did well in the face of increasing competition.

"It has suffered because of competition and changing trends – you can buy a suit out of a supermarket nowadays.

"They also had a lot of designer labels and good stock but people seem to be going for cheaper items now."

Fiona Moriarty, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: "It has been a tough 12 months for retailers, whether large or small.

"The economic situation and faltering consumer confidence means many retailers have suffered and seen a dip in sales."