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Another blow for the high street as Disney quits Perth city centre

Another big-name chain is quitting Perth, prompting calls for emergency talks with city centre traders.

The Disney store in Perth which is closing its doors on January 25.

Disney has announced it is shutting its Fair City branch, with the loss of about a dozen jobs.

The toy store, which opened with much fanfare in May 2018, will close its doors before the end of the month.

The news come as fears grow for the future of the flagship Beales department store. On Monday, owners revealed the chain was on the brink of collapse unless it can find a last-minute buyer.

Fears department store Beales could be ‘latest casualty’ of Perth’s retail sector

Disney has not commented on the closure of its store in the St John’s Shopping Centre, but a sign placed in the window tells customers: “Thank you for being our guest. This store will close on Saturday, January 25.”

It states the nearest Disney store will be at the Gyle Shopping Centre, Edinburgh, more than 40 miles away.

The latest closure has moved local SNP MP Pete Wishart to call a meeting with city centre traders to explore options for the future and prevent further losses.

Disney recruited a workforce of 13 when the shop opened.

Derek Martin, marketing manager at St John’s said: “We were delighted to welcome the Disney store to St John’s Shopping Centre back in early 2018, as it was a great addition to the Perth city centre retail mix.

“We were obviously very keen that the pop-up store would remain open and every effort was made to secure their continued occupation.

“We continue in our efforts to secure new tenants for the shopping centre and Perth.”

The Perth branch opened about a year after the Disney Store in Dundee’s Marketgait  closed for good.

Mr Wishart, who welcomed the jobs boost two years ago, said he was “saddened” by the decision.

“This is obviously very sudden for staff and for customers and will come as a blow to many, given the short time the store has been open.

“I am very concerned by the number of closures and rumoured closures in the centre of Perth and I will be looking to reconvene a meeting with city centre traders alongside John Swinney MSP as soon as possible.

“Whilst there does seem to be a trend nationally of high street chains reducing the numbers of shops that they have, it is important to look locally to see if there is something we can do to help reverse this trend.

“I will be speaking to the relevant organisations in the coming days to ensure that everything is done to hep secure future employment for the staff affected by this announcement.”

Mr Swinney described the Disney store announcement as “another setback for our city centre.”

He said: “It is desperately sad news for the members of staff affected. I am particularly concerned by the sudden nature of the closure, and the lack of forewarning given to employees.”

Conservative Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser said the closure would be “another loss for Perth.”

He called on the Scottish Government to reduce the “burden” of business rates for independent retailers like Beales.

“I feel the high level of business rates is a major factor in putting pressure on High Street retail shops,” he said.

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