Shoppers in Falkirk have told of their sadness after learning Watt Brothers has gone into administration.
Closure signs were placed in the window of the town’s store in The Howgate Shopping Centre this morning, with some staff seen leaving “in tears” after receiving the news.
Watt Brothers today confirmed 229 employees across its Scottish department stores have been made redunant with immediate effect, with 20 of those coming from its shop in Falkirk.
Administrators KPMG say the family firm, which sold fashion, electrical, homeware, jewellery, gifts and beauty items, will have a stock clearance event at its Glasgow store tomorrow.
However, that will come as scant consolation to staff or customers.
Elizabeth Munro (73), from Falkirk, told The Falkirk Herald: “I’ve bought from it since it opened — I’m here most days of the week.
“I’m sad for the workers who have lost their jobs, especially coming up to Christmas.”
Anne Dickson, a volunteer at Lyn’s Small Animal Rehoming located opposite Watt Brothers, said: “We’re all shocked.
“It happened just after 11am. Two security guards escorted them out.
“At first it looked as if they were having a meeting and the next minute the shutters went down and we saw the staff leaving out the other door.
“Apparently the staff were leaving in tears. I feel sorry for the staff — it’s a total surprise.
“You go in to do a day’s work and the next minute that’s it. It’s unbelievable.”
A Bonnybridge woman, who asked not to be named, added: “I’m disappointed and quite surprised.
“Another one bites the dust.”
However, the closure hasn’t come as a surprise to all.
Falkirk resident Frank Rawding (79) said: “I came here from Stirling in 1976 and from then until now most of the shops have shut.
“I’m sad to see it shut but there’s no comparison between here and Stirling.
“I feel sorry for the folk working here because there’s nothing about Falkirk now.”
Blair Nimmo, joint administrator and UK head of restructuring at KPMG, said: “Despite the director’s tireless efforts to increase margins, cut costs and recapitalise the business, Watt Brothers continued to incur trading losses as a result of the well-publicised challenges being experienced across the retail sector.
“Ultimately this has led to the unfortunate demise of a well-known and highly-regarded business.
“We will be holding a stock clearance event, and are grateful to the remaining staff for their efforts and assistance at this difficult time.
“We are working closely with Skills Development Scotland, via their PACE team, and JobCentre Plus to support the staff who have been made redundant.
“We would encourage any party who has an interest in acquiring the business and its assets to contact us as soon as possible.”