By Kristy Dorsey

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 and Debenhams.

Mr Ali, who purchased the Postings Shopping Centre in 2019, inherited 15:17 as a tenant after taking over the former Debenhams store last year. He said 15:17 owes him more than £100,000 in rent from the unit.

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

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 20,000sq 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.

“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,” Mr Ali added.