Good news possibly coming for empty Perth City Center store

Perth city center traders could be heartened to see a new tenant for the closed Beales/McEwens department store building.

This week, the director of a property consultancy gave the PA a positive heads up that two companies were “strongly interested” in leasing the boarded-up retail premises, a keystone site close to St John’s Kirk that has the power to alter the fortunes of traders adjacent to it.

There appears to be a possibility of good news on the horizon following Alan Stewart, director of Glasgow-based Breck Sutherland Property Consultants, claiming he has two “strongly interested” parties, both hoping to take on the sleeping giant.

City Center SNP councillor Eric Drysdale said: “It is really concerning to see the number of vacant properties currently on St John Street.

“This is causing much reduced footfall, obviously, which will be placing increased financial pressures on the businesses that remain.

“It follows that new tenants in the former McEwens/Beales property and indeed the former Lakeland and other units would be welcomed with open arms.

“I am aware of some potential interest in certain units and I would continue to encourage the current Tory-led council in its final 12 weeks to do more to help broker deals so that this attractive retail and leisure street can return to its maximum potential, especially with the close proximity of the soon-to-be-new-home of Scotland’s Stone of Destiny at the City Hall.”

The former Perth Beales store, part of the independent market town department store Beales group, closed in March 2020. KPMG administrators advised at the time all 23 Beales stores across the UK had shut.

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Today, after almost two years of laying empty, the building shows signs of deterioration having been without a sign of a tenant.

The gilded doorway of the Beales main entrance is sometimes used by rough sleepers and has had several break-in attempts.

The vacancy puts a downer on potential trade along the pedestrianized St John Street it faces onto.

Previously, the ornate building was the home of McEwens of Perth and had enjoyed a long history since opening in 1868 of providing high-end clothing and fancy homewares before in 2016 becoming a casualty to the change in shopping habits away from the high street.

But on Tuesday, Mr Stewart, Breck Sutherland director, claimed behind the scenes, things are moving.

“We are actively looking for a tenant for the Beales site in Perth,” he added.

“We have a well-known Scottish operator as well as a partner museum strongly interested. Both are in discussion with us at the moment. We hope we can pass on good news soon, but due to its size, it takes a long time for due diligence to take place.”

Mr Stewart expanded what he meant by a ‘partner museum’ wishing to let the building.

Last days of Beales in March 2020
Last days of Beales in March 2020

“We are in close discussions with a museum/gallery,” he said “It is heartening for the landlord that we have two decent lines of interest on this site.

“Things have been moving behind the scenes.”

The revelation was news to Perth and Kinross councillors.

Perth City Center Ward Councilor Chris Ahern
Perth City Center Councilor Chris Ahern

City Center councillor Chris Ahern said: “If this was to take shape, this would be marvelous news.

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“The Beales building would not be suited to flats so it would be great if an operator was willing to take it on and the building opened as a business again.

“I have said previously, in my opinion, the old shopping model does not work. I am guilty of shopping more and more online. How we all shop these days is a problem for the high street.

The high street is emptying of businesses. If someone is keen to reopen the Beales building, this would be good news for Perth.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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