Tesco said it had been “humbled” by the goodwill of customers in Kirkcaldy as it closed its store on Hunter Street on Saturday, with the loss of 189 jobs.
The company said it had listened to the case put forward by Fife Council and others to keep the store open.
However, it regretted it had “not been possible to find a way to make the store viable”.
A small crowd gathered outside the store to watch as the doors closed for the final time at 6pm.
Many of the shelves were almost bare by the time the store closed, but staff some of whom have found other jobs or have been relocated to other stores managed to keep smiling, while customers throughout the day shook their hands and wished them well.
As the doors closed, staff waved their goodbyes through the windows at customers waving back from outside.
One pensioner said: “This is such a sad loss. It was a such a friendly place to do your shopping.”
By 10pm the signs outside the store had been removed and workmen were building a partition to allow access to the post office from Hunter Street from tomorrow.
Tesco chief executive, Dave Lewis, announced in January that the company’s performance as a business had “fallen significantly short” of where executives would want it to be, and that to protect the future of the business in the UK it would close 43 unprofitable stores.
It was weeks later, on January 28, that he confirmed the Kirkcaldy store was one of the 43 it planned to close.
The news was described as “devastating”, with concerns raised about the impact on staff, the economy of the High Street and the sustainability of the remaining stores in The Postings shopping centre.
Hundreds of supermarket employees, town centre traders and shoppers united to voice opposition to the proposed closure at a packed public meeting in early February. A public demonstration was even arranged as former prime minister Gordon Brown made an impassioned plea for “people power” to save the supermarket.
However, Tesco confirmed the store would close as planned.
Tesco has since given assurances that customers will still be able to access the post office service from both Hunter Street and The Postings from tomorrow.
Councillor David Ross, leader of Fife Council, said: “The engagement with Tesco did result in a commitment to retain the post office until at least the end of the lease period at the end of this year.”
The council added that, from a jobs perspective, it hooks up with Skills Development Scotland’s PACE service and they provide careers advice to groups of employees in these situations.
Bill Harvey, manager of Business Improvement District (BID) group, Kirkcaldy4All, said that changing shopping habits and Tesco’s expansion policy had prompted Saturday’s shutdown.
However, he added that Kirkcaldy will “get over it”.
A lot of work is being done behind the scenes to encourage more local people and visitors to come and visit what is still Fife’s main retail centre, he said.