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The Penicuik Store Twenty One © The Penicuik Cuckoo/Thomas Scott

Troubled Store 21 to Close Penicuik Store

Store Twenty One is preparing to close its Penicuik store after announcing it was to table a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

It may have only opened in June 2015, but the fashion and homeware retailer will leave Penicuik this Summer as it tries to avoid following BHS and Austin Reed into administration.

Closing down signs have been erected at the 4,683 sq.ft unit at 40 John Street in Penicuik’s ailing shopping precinct with a fire sale commencing. Staff were informed earlier this week about the decision and shortly after, signage was erected to advertise the move. Customers can expect to grab a bargain in their womens, mens or childrenswear departments before they close.

The chain, which employs over one thousand staff members at its 202 stores across the UK, announced Tuesday that it had appointed AlixPartners Services UK to oversee the enactment of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) that will allow the retailer to come to arrangements with their creditors to settle their debts. A CVA often sees the major restructuring of a company with the closure of unprofitable stores, such as that in Penicuik. BHS, British Home Stores, announced in March that they too would table a CVA but the action was not enough and the mainstay retailer fell into administration with the loss of 20,000 jobs. Store Twenty One is now battling to avoid collapse.

In a statement AlixPartners’ Peter Saville said:

We have been working closely with the directors of Store Twenty One for a number of weeks to consider options for the business and to chart a course for future success. After careful consideration the directors have taken today’s [Tuesday’s] decisions as these represent the best option in terms of preserving jobs and value within the group. Our focus now is on putting the restructuring plan into action by working closely with the management team and all other stakeholders in order to position the business to succeed in what is clearly an extremely competitive UK retail environment.

The retailer pays an annual rent of £55,000 for their unit in Penicuik with additional annual rates of £18,462. This £75,462 outlay, accompanied by inconsistent levels of footfall in the town centre, likely mean that the store has struggled financially in the past twelve months. The concern will be whether this unit will again lie vacant for a lengthy period of time, like it did after M&Co. departed, or whether the landlord may choose to dispose of their leasehold interest and sell.

Earlier this year, regeneration specialists Evolve Estates purchased the eastern side of the shopping precinct, including the anchor store B&M Bargains. Since their purchase was made they have failed to secure any new tenants but are believed to be in ongoing discussions with a number of high street retailers.

What do you think? Do you miss WM Lows who used to occupy the unit? Should the whole lot be rebuilt? Let us know below or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.