In good health

City cen­tre do­ing well

Perthshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Ross Gar­diner

A study which sug­gests Perth city cen­tre is down by 13 shops on last year has been branded in­ac­cu­rate by Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil.

The re­port, con­ducted by Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers (PwC) and The Lo­cal Data Com­pany, was re­leased this week and claimed there were 152 busi­nesses based in the Fair City’s town cen­tre units at the end of 2017, down on the 165 op­er­at­ing when the year started - a trend it iden­ti­fied across Scotland.

How­ever the sur­vey, which has been re­ported in a num­ber of na­tional news­pa­pers this week, does not match PKC’s city cen­tre oc­cu­pancy fig­ures.

A Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil spokesper­son con­firmed: “In 2017, Perth city cen­tre saw 24 new busi­nesses open, along­side 23 clo­sures.

“To date in 2018, we have al­ready seen seven new busi­nesses open, with three busi­nesses clos­ing.

“There are a fur­ther three more busi­nesses new to Perth open­ing in the com­ing months, in­clud­ing Brew­Dog and Vito’s Ital­ian restau­rant.

“The cur­rent va­cancy rate for the city cen­tre is 8.02 per cent, lower than the na­tional rate for Scotland, which as of Jan­uary 2018 was 11.9 per cent.

“The rea­sons for de­ci­sions to close busi­nesses can vary, how­ever as a coun­cil we con­tinue to work to en­cour­age firms to con­sider es­tab­lish­ing a pres­ence in Perth, which helps to main­tain the var­ied re­tail mix the city has to of­fer for both res­i­dents and vis­i­tors.”

High-pro­file com­pa­nies like Oliver Bonas and Beales were amongst the firms to move to Perth, with pop­u­lar eater­ies Grin­gos and Crunch Munch es­tab­lish­ing them­selves in the Fair City.

Su­san­nah Simp­son, pri­vate busi­ness part­ner of study con­duc­tors PwC, did con­cede Perth has a lot go­ing for it: “Perth is by no means Dundee’s poor cousin.

“Ex­cit­ing plans to cre­ate a new leisure hub at Mill Quar­ter in the heart of the city with a mix of bars, restau­rants, shops and a cin­ema will bring a wel­come eco­nomic boost and hope­fully en­cour­age fur­ther in­vest­ment across the re­gion in 2018 and be­yond.

“It is the op­ti­mism sparked by th­ese types of wider de­vel­op­ments which can ce­ment the de­mand for bricks and mor­tar re­tail out­lets in ad­di­tion to the move to dig­i­tal of­fer­ings.”

City cen­tre coun­cil­lor An­drew Par­rott said: “The re­tail en­vi­ron­ment is very dif­fi­cult with the still grow­ing im­pact of in­ter­net shop­ping lead­ing to a chang­ing mix of busi­nesses on the High St.

“You can’t get a cup of cof­fee or a hair­cut on the in­ter­net.

“But I be­lieve Perth is do­ing bet­ter than most places in Scotland.

“I am a keen par­tic­i­pant of the meet­ings of the Perth Traders As­so­ci­a­tion and will al­ways do all I can to help the in­de­pen­dent busi­nesses that mark Perth out as a re­tail des­ti­na­tion.

“Ear­lier this year I was in con­ver­sa­tion in the city cen­tre with a cou­ple who had come from Aberdeen be­cause they en­joy the shop­ping en­vi­ron­ment in Perth.”

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