Falkirk’s former BHS could become artisan food hub, say centre owners

Karim and Rahim Virani, of Cygnet Properties and Leisure plc, would like to entice businesses into setting up a food department store in Callendar Square Shopping Centre
Karim and Rahim Virani, of Cygnet Properties and Leisure plc, would like to entice businesses into setting up a food department store in Callendar Square Shopping Centre

Falkirk’s former BHS in Callendar Square could be transformed into a “food-cum-restaurant department store”, according to the shopping centre’s owners.

Cygnet Properties and Leisure plc has confirmed several parties have shown an interest and looked round the premises with the view of setting up shop to offer an array of artisan food products.

The London-based firm, which bought over Callendar Square Shopping Centre in 2017, is hopeful of enticing shoppers back to the vacant unit for the first time in three years since BHS was forced to close its doors for good after administrators Duff and Phelps failed to find a buyer for the entire business.

Despite suggestions of the empty store being turned into a farmers’ market-type facility, Cygnet Properties and Leisure director Karim Virani revealed the focus is fixed more firmly on creating a space which provides a variety of food outlets.

He said: “There is interest locked.

“A number of viewings have taken place. There are people sniffing.

“It’s not so much a market, it’s more of a food concept which will have different restaurants and artisan food products for sale so it’s quite broad-ranging.

“It would be a food-cum-restaurant department store but we haven’t identified when this would be.”

When Karim took over at Callendar Square along with his brother Rahim, the pair promised to breathe new life into the shopping centre.

A year-and-a-half down the line, the siblings are pleased with the diverse range of tenants they have been able to attract to the complex.

Their plan now is to build on the mix of shops that can be found within the shopping centre and the Viranis believe a food-focused department store would go down a treat with customers.

Karim added: “We’ve got a lovely dance studio that started off small and has grown, the Falkirk Employability Hub, a printing shop and a new cafe.

“There’s a barber shop which is doing wonderfully.

“We’ve also gone for a lot of community-based uses. We have a large area that we have called the Sowing Studio. They do things like arts classes and language classes. Charities like React Scotland have also taken space.”