A national pub chain will keep its branch in a Caithness town after fears it would close.
JD Wetherspoon’s decision to remove Wick from its list of closures has been welcomed by those behind a new drive to regenerate the town centre.
The far north outlet, along with those in Hawick and Peebles, have won a reprieve after being among 16 put up for sale by the national pub chain in March.
The Alexander Bain in Market Square had attracted some interest but nothing was followed through and the firm’s management has now had a change of heart.
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Spokesman Eddie Gershon said yesterday: “Our intention was to sell all 16 pubs but it was always open to review and given that those at Wick, Hawick and Peebles have all been doing very well and the decision has been taken to keep them.
“On reflection, we felt they had a very decent future.”
Its full and part-time staff of about 30 were informed on Friday.
“They are obviously very happy and relieved the pub is to carry on as normal,” said Mr Gershon.
The news delighted local Highland Councillor Raymond Bremner who hailed it as a major boost for the current efforts to regenerate the town centre.
He and the three other local ward members are in the midst of a public consultation over ways to breathe new life into the royal burgh.
Mr Bremner said: “It’s great news that a major retailer like Wetherspoon has decided to continue trading in Wick and that the iconic building of the old post office right in the town centre will remain in use.
“At a time where we are trying hard to focus on making the town centre of Wick a more vibrant place to be, the uncertainty of the Alexander Bain was a real worry but I’m absolutely delighted to hear that the premises has been taken off the market.
“It will also be good news for all the employees and customers. Hopefully this will help create some stability in our town centre and our focus on its regeneration.”
The Wick pub, named after the 19th-century Watten inventor Alexander Bain, opened at the former post office in May 2003.