Owners of stricken Falkirk shopping centre say they will not leave businesses high and dry

Support will be available to help business owners find new premises as the mass exodus begins from a doomed Falkirk shopping centre which is “weeks not months” away from shutting for good.

By James Trimble
Friday, 14th August 2020, 5:14 pm
Updated Friday, 14th August 2020, 5:30 pm

According to Karim Virani, director of Callendar Square owners Cygnet Properties and Leisure, the east end High Street shopping centre has only weeks left until it closes its doors for good.

Mr Virani said: “I think we have reached a point of emergency and the council needs to do something. They must take urgent action and members of the council must realise the economic consequences of no action – the consequences are wiping out jobs.

“There are 100 jobs here being placed at risk. The council decided they wanted to put an HQ and arts centre in the town – they must now say exactly where they will be putting it.

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Owners state its a matter of "weeks not months" until Callendar Shopping Centre closes its doors for the last time

“If the council does do something with the HQ then there is a lot of external investment that will come into the town.”

Mr Virani has teamed up with Falkirk Delivers’ BID manager Elaine Grant to offer help and support to the business owners and believes that, while the closure of the shopping centre is a negative, the opportunity for around 30 business to relocate to other areas of Falkirk could have a positive outcome for the business owners and the town itself.

“They can work with Elaine and hopefully find the space that is right for them and I wish them every success. It should be better for the town in the long term. I going to keep dialogue open with my tenants. I have spoken to each and every one of them individually – I told they I can’t do any more, I’ve been trying for two-and-a-half years.

“I can put my hand on my heart and say I gave it my best shot. I was patient when tenants said they couldn’t pay. I’m not the big bad developer who is deserting Falkirk and running away. I owe it to my tenants to be here – I had to come in and speak to them all.

“I’m being as supportive as I can be and I have told tenants they can store items here if they need to for a time after the centre closes.

Mr Virani said the doors of Callendar Square will close once all the tenants had found suitable alternative accommodation, but he could not postpone the inevitable for much longer.

“There not set day when the centre will close. We will be working with them on an individual basis, but it’s a case of weeks not months. Some of the tenants have sadly said they might not be continuing hereafter.”

Whatever the future holds for Callendar Square, it will never be a shopping centre again, according to Mr Virani.

“We are looking at options, but running a place like Callendar Square is not cheap – we have got to consider our position. I think everyone knows its not going to be retail here anymore, it’s going to have to be leisure or accommodation, or maybe even the council HQ.

"It’s a very old building and needs too much investment to make it viable for the sort of tenants we were trying to attract. I think the town might not have been big enough for two shopping centres, for both Callendar Square and the Howgate.“We just hope there is some kind of intervention and there is a little bit more money put into the High Street, a little bit more investment. I think there is an oversupply of retail in the town and Callendar Square is slightly further away from the beating heart of the town centre.”

BID manager Elaine said: “It will be a loss when the centre closes. There is a real sense of community here and I think they will maybe help each other. I can see tenants from here teaming up and maybe renting a new premises together.

“I’m working closely with Karim and Falkirk Council and will be based in Callendar Square for the next few weeks to work with all the businesses – try to help them source any funding and get them re-opening as soon as possible in new locations.”

If anyone knows of any premises available for any businesses to move into they can contact Elaine on 07496661281.