John Lewis hasn’t done itself any favours in Aberdeen.
Its decision to shut up shop and simply walk away, abandon its staff, ditch its customers, and put the boot into an already fragile retail sector is appalling.
Far be it from me to tell a multi-million pound high street chain how to make business decisions, but why does it make sense to close down an operation serving the north-east and north of Scotland? Why retreat to the Central Belt?
And did any of the pen-pushers at John Lewis look up from the bottom line long enough to consider the impact pulling out of Aberdeen would have on the rest of the sector and the city itself?
John Lewis was a major pull for the Granite City, bringing people in from far and wide. For years, it was loved, well-used and supported here in Aberdeen. Where is the payback for that loyalty?
What did they really expect to achieve by plastering posters on their locked doors saying folk can shop at John Lewis online?
The last thing our city centre needs is a massive shop, sitting empty and left to rot
Well, now the department store has a chance to at least show some sense of appreciation and thanks for the people of the north-east.
They should take up MSP Kevin Stewart’s suggestion of donating their now vacant building to the city as a goodwill gesture.
After all, John Lewis apparently is not planning on turning it into housing, as it is suggesting for other closed branches. And the last thing our city centre needs is a massive shop, sitting empty and left to rot.
By donating the site, it would open the door to looking at imaginative and innovative ways of using the location to help regenerate that rather tired side of Aberdeen.
That must, though, involve an intensive masterplan, with a deep, clear-eyed look at what is truly needed in terms of housing, business and shops.
Surely with a site like that, in that location, there is scope for some truly visionary thinking about the future of the city centre?
Aberdeen should look to other cities for regeneration inspiration
The best way to make the heart of any town vibrant and exciting is to have people living in it, with affordable homes and unique boutique shops, coffee places or quirky restaurants, to be enjoyed not just by locals but to attract more people to the area, too.
Finnieston went from shabby to chic in less than a decade… Why can’t the same happen around George Street?
You just need to look at other cities to see how that template works, with bits of Glasgow being rejuvenated and made popular again after an influx of residents and independent businesses. Finnieston went from shabby to chic in less than a decade, driven by more people making their home there as new businesses made it a cool foodie hub. Now it’s somewhere people want to hang out.
Why can’t the same happen around George Street, with some bold thinking and a push in the right direction – triggered by John Lewis doing something positive to balance out the negative of abandoning Aberdeen?
Scott Begbie is entertainment editor for The Press & Journal and Evening Express