By RYAN TAYLOR
OTHER businesses on Lerwick’s Commercial Street will suffer unless a buyer is found for closed butcher shop James S. Smith, it was claimed this week.
The long-standing shop closed its doors on the street and also its North Road premises on New Year’s Eve, just two years after it was taken over by new owners.
Its former manager, Kevin Sandison, says the street will “die” if it cannot play host to a butcher shop in the long term.
The business was bought by Mr Sandison’s uncle, Orkney-based farmer Graham Henry in 2006 when former butcher Alex Wiseman retired after 26 years of owning and running the business.
The business has now closed, seeking a buyer, and the farming company G&A Henry (Orkney) Ltd has applied to go into liquidation.
The move leaves Lerwick with just one butcher shop – the Globe – to serve the whole town, leaving residents without access to a car with no choice but to walk out to that butcher’s Commercial Road premises.
Time was when Lerwick had no fewer than 13 butcher shops to its name.
“It doesn’t do anything for Commercial Street operating as it does at the moment,” Mr Sandison said.
“It’s not going to help the other shops on the street with no butcher shop being there. The street will just die.”
Mr Sandison said he was currently looking to buy another shop to run as a butcher’s, adding “several people” were interested in buying the old shop. Discussions had been taking place with Fort chip shop owner Jim Manson to take over the premises, but Mr Sandison said that was “not happening”.
“To end up with there were three of us that worked in the shop in Commercial Street and three in the shop in North Road.”
While Mr Sandison and another member of staff have left voluntarily, others have been paid off.
He added the shop had not been affected by last year’s arrival of supermarket giant Tesco, insisting business was brisk over the Christmas period.
“We were as busy if not busier at Christmas this year than we were last year.
“On 23rd December we had 500 customers through the door at the shop, so I don’t think Tesco has made any difference.
“People are more trusting in going to a local butcher, and they are getting exactly what they want instead of getting something that’s pre-packed.
“The owners are in Orkney and they decided it was time to move on, and they decided to close until they found a buyer.
“Closing it was a decision the Henrys had to make. It’s their business at the end of the day.”
The Shetland Times contacted Mr Henry at his Orkney home but he said he did not wish to comment on the shop’s closure.
Solicitors for G&A Henry (Orkney) Ltd, based at Howe Farm, Harray, petitioned the Sheriff in Kirkwall on 24th December to wind up the company and agree the appointment of an interim liquidator.