NATIONAL pub-chain JD Wetherspoon could be about to expand their rapidly growing business empire into Angus, with one site already earmarked in Brechin and another set to be identified in Forfar (writes Steve Mitchell).
JD Wetherspoon is extending its reach into rural areas, with new outlets due to open in Hawick and Inverurie in the coming weeks and sites earmarked for locations including Orkney, Peebles and, most importantly, Brechin.
The on-going expansion is part of a concerted drive into small-town Scotland and the company has identified sites in Fraserburgh, Blairgowie, Thurso, Lockerbie, Forfar, Cupar, Kelso, Oban and Fort William to add to its 51-strong business portfolio north of the Border.
JD Wetherspoon’s spokesman, Eddie Gershon confirmed that discussions “were on-going” regarding the company locating and opening premises in Brechin and Forfar.
He said: “This is a question of when not if for Wetherspoons.
“We have previously identified a site in Brechin and that is presently at the stage where it has been taken back to our board for further discussions and we will take it from there.
“Expansion into places like Brechin and Forfar very much meets in with the company’s outlook at present.
“We have a real drive on to open premises in some of the more rural areas, where our approach to delivering affordable meals to customers goes down very well.
“Recently we have opened an outlet in Wick, which has a population of around 8000 people, so you can see that there is no longer a concentration on the larger city centres.
“We did look at the former Woolworths buildings in Brechin and, while they are an excellent site for commercial purposes, they weren’t exactly what we were looking for.
“However, we have subsequently identified another site in Brechin and that will be an on-going process, which will ultimately see the board decide if the premises in question meets our requirements.
“It’s also very fair to say JD Wetherspoon don’t enter projects like this lightly. We are very interested in opening up premises in both Brechin and Forfar and we are hopeful that before long we will be in a position to do exactly that.
“It used to be that we would buy premises that were around 4000 square feet, but more recently we have been able to accommodate our pubs and bar food outlets in places around the 2500 square foot mark.”
Angus Council leader Bob Myles, welcomed the news and said that a company with a reputation like Wetherspoons would be made very welcome in both Brechin and Forfar.
He said: “It’s great to see a company like Wetherspoons declaring an interest in Brechin and in Angus.
“I am delighted to see this development and obviously the company have identified an opportunity here. There should be a spin off for jobs and that is always very positive news.
“I have to admit that I am not all that familiar with their chain, although I have heard of them.
“It shows what can be done. If you look at Brechin at present, The Swan has been a big success story, through a lot of hard work.
“That was a business that seemed to struggle previously, but the present owners seem to have turned it into a highly successful operation, with much of that coming from the excellent quality of food they provide.
“With good management, good food and a good reputation, you can attract people in and, if Wetherspoons can bring that with them, I have no doubt that it will play a part in attracting more people into Brechin’s town centre. So this looks like very positive news indeed.”