Time running out for high street, experts warn

Almost 30 retailers were made insolvent in the first three months of the year, with business experts warning time may be running out for the high street.

The Scottish retail sector recorded its highest quarter for insolvencies from January to March, according to accountants and business advisers French Duncan LLP.

A total of 28 stores failed over the period, compared with 68 recorded for the whole of 2018.

French Duncan suggested there were “major problems” in the retail sector that need to be addressed.

Eileen Blackburn, head of restructuring and debt advisory, said: “Given that the retail sector has been experiencing steady very high numbers of business failures over a prolonged period this does not bode well for an uplift in the sector despite recently reported improved sales figures.

“Clearly there are major problems with retail which are not being addressed.

“Change needs to happen soon if we are not to see our high streets decimated by insolvency and the closure of many familiar and well-loved shops.”

Ms Blackburn added: “There must be some negotiation on the part of landlords and councils to accept that if they are to continue making money from retailers they must accept and facilitate a situation where retailers can make money.

“Treating the retail sector as a cash cow simply doesn’t work anymore and if everyone is to benefit and ensure we have a high street in the future then councils, landlords and retailers must get together and work out a mutually beneficial system.

“The latest insolvency figures indicate that time may be running out.”