The Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, a cousin of Her Majesty The Queen, has blamed Angus Council and red tape for his decision to close one of Forfar’s most prominent and long-established businesses.
In a statement posted on the business’s Facebook page on Monday, Lord Strathmore said: “It is with deep regret that I have to announce the forthcoming closure of David Irons & Sons in Forfar.
“An array of factors have built up against us over the past eight years. Firstly, the inextricable rise of the internet which I can only see going one way and that is ever upwards; secondly, over the past 18 months we have had severe staffing issues within the shop and thirdly, I’m afraid much of the blame must be laid at the council’s doorstep with the arrival of Asda and three large discount stores, one of which is due to expand, within the small town of Forfar, population 16,000.
“With the cost of the renovations carried out due to fire regulations and increasing overheads, plus all the above factors taken into consideration, it is quite impossible to continue trading.
“I realise that Forfar will lose one of its iconic retail shops and my wife and I are deeply saddened having had to come to this decision.
“We will announce details of our closing down sale in the next few days.”
The announcement was met with shock and deep regret by loyal customers and Forfar residents.
Fellow business Car Requirements of Montrose Road posted: “Very sad to hear about the closure of this iconic store. Unfortunately, unless locals get behind independent shops in Forfar and Angus, then we will end up a ghost town with only supermarkets left.
“Why people don’t support or at least try independent retailers is beyond me, you will get fantastic service and more often than not better prices. I agree with Lord Strathmore that Angus Council has to do more and allowing so many supermarkets to saturate such a small town is shocking!”
Garlands Florists of Forfar posted: “So, so sorry to hear this news. Independent business have such a hard struggle to keep going these days. Can only imagine the overheads a place like David Irons had. You obviously tried so hard to keep it going. This will be a great loss to the town of Forfar.”
Greenvale Trading Limited commented: “Very sad news for Forfar losing such an iconic independent store. Unfortunately if we don’t support the local independents then our town will turn into a clone and lose its identity. Do we really want our town centre to be only charity shops, bargain basement chain stores and empty premises?”
Louise Stewart agreed commenting: “Dreadful sad news. Irons is an iconic store. A great shop in Forfar and part of its retail history. Soon we will have no town centres with individual shops. There will be hardly any choice and supermarkets will be the norm. Come on councils get behind local retailers. Help them survive, stop allowing so many supermarkets into our small towns. They are squeezing out the individual shops.
“Think to the future. Make it easier for them. There’s no incentive for small retailers these days. It’s a constant fight against high rates, rules and regulations, and Internet competition. You don’t get personal service - a friendly face, help, advice, or a little discount over the Internet.
“People have to start supporting small retailers by shopping locally. Use us or lose us!”
Replying to the messages of support posted on Facebook Lord Strathmore’s wife, Karen Strathmore said: “Words cannot explain how we feel, but thank you all for your kind messages.”
David Irons & sons Ltd. has served generations from its prominent site in Castle Street.
The Earl of Strathmore bought the store in 2005 from Marshall and Michael Irons, whose great-great grandfather, George, established the business in 1840.
The shop developed over the years and celebrated a grand re-opening in April.
At the time of going to press on Tuesday (yesterday) Angus Council declined to comment on the store’s closure.