A Yorkshire property entrepreneur is aiming to reverse retail decline in a Scottish coastal town with the launch of a department store in a high street site formerly occupied by Debenhams.

Tahir Ali, whose Evergold Property firm owns the adjacent Postings Shopping Centre in Kirkcaldy, is set to open the new venture dubbed "Fife Department Store" next week. It follows a dispute over rent arrears with the site's previous tenant 15:17, a department store chain launched in 2019 offering independent retailers space in buildings vacated by major high street brands such as BHS, Debenhams and Topshop.

Mr Ali said 15:17, whom he inherited as a tenant after purchasing the former Debenhams store last year, owes him more than £100,000 in rent from the unit. 

“I feel that allowing them to remain at my property would have been a far worse predicament for Kirkcaldy and me,” he said.

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“Having been delighted at how well the local Kirkcaldy management team was operating the store and given the fact that there is such a limited choice of beauty products, women’s fashion and children’s wear along the High Street, I have decided to take the opportunity to bring on board a knowledgeable team of retail suppliers and specialists to help launch and support our own high street department store.”

Mr Ali said he will continue working with the existing concessionaires who previously filled the ground floor, as well as local chain 3 Beans Coffee. The 20,000 sq ft Fife Department Store will comprise concessions and local businesses, with the first floor focused solely on affordable women’s and children’s wear plus a "sprinkling" of menswear.

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“It would have been a great shame to leave a gap in Kirkcaldy high street when there exists such an exciting opportunity to develop a local and varied department store in the heart of the town’s pedestrianised centre to the benefit of the local community,” he said.

“Whilst we all find ourselves in extremely challenging times, I am confident that Fife Department Store will prove popular with the local community and consumers and we all look forward to a busy trading period in the run up to the festive season and beyond."