Business boss warns Amazon will 'kill high street'
WEST Fife businessman John Muir believes the new Amazon distribution centre in Dunfermline will kill off high street stores.
First Minister Alex Salmond opened the huge new base for the world's biggest online retailer recently.
The American firm's arrival has been welcomed as a jobs boost but in the long run Mr Muir, founder of the Inverkeithing-based construction firm, the Muir Group, believes it is bad news for local shops as more people are encouraged to buy from home.
He drew a comparison between the obstacles he believes were put in the way of the Scarborough Muir plans for Rosyth Waterfront - which could have created 6000 jobs - and the pro-active approach adopted to attract the American giant.
He told the Press, "Amazon's going to destroy all the high streets. You're not going to buy a computer in the high street when you can get it cheaper from Amazon.
"So the Dixons and the Comets - all the shops that people know about - are going to disappear."
Dunfermline MSP Bill Walker, who was at the recent Amazon opening, said, "I can see the argument but the fact is people will buy online.
"That's the way things have moved and you can't turn the tide.
"People will buy from Amazon and I would far prefer them to be here in Dunfermline rather than set up in Milton Keynes or wherever.
"I think there will always be a place for high street shopping but we have to accept for certain types of goods many people prefer to buy online."
MP Thomas Docherty said, "I totally agree with the point John Muir is making about the shabby way his highly successful West Fife company was treated by local politicians over Rosyth Waterfront compared to the red carpet treatment given to Amazon.
"However, I very much welcome Amazon to Dunfermline. The way we all shop has changed in recent years. I am glad that Amazon came to West Fife rather than West Lothian or anywhere else."
In an in-depth, exclusive interview with the Press Mr Muir also delivered a damning verdict on Fife's credentials as a business-friendly location.
"They say Fife is the very best place to do business. It's the opposite. It's the worst place in the world to do business.
"At our level it's the worst. As a local company it is definitely the worst."
Dunfermline city centre trader Graham Henderson has been running his shop, 'Pink String and Sealing Wax', since 1988.
He said, "I think the authorities really must start considering the knock-on effects of future development - in the town, on the edge of town and out of town.
"They have to start looking after what we've got and helping to improve what we've got instead of taking away from it.
"We do have various bodies who represent businesses and let's face it, they are at the sharp end.
"I think these bodies must be consulted on a more regular basis so that the authorities can make a more balanced judgement."
Amazon did not respond to our invitation to comment in time for our deadline.
Full interview with Mr Muir is in this week's Dunfermline Press.
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Have your say. Post a comment on this article.
Dec 2, 09:47
Times change... Deal with it! If it was up to some of these people they would be happy to keep Dunfermline High Street as is and never make any improvements. Sell better products at competitive prices and then maybe people won't have to shop on-line as much?
Recommend? Yes 25 No 1
Dec 2, 10:31
The rantings of a sad man holding a grudge because his project didn't get the go ahead.
Get over it!!!
Amazon won't kill the High St it will help protect it by providing employment to local people.
Dixons haven't had shops for years they operate online just like Amazon and comet are not and have never been on the High St in Dunfermline.
Pick your ball up and go home!!!!
Recommend? Yes 18 No 13
Dec 2, 11:06
Why should I have to pay high prices? sorry but the High street already dead, I went to get some clothes out one of the shops, there never had them I had to another town, which had proper bigger shops, and guess what? there had the full range of clothes I was looking for.
Unsurprising, the town been named as the "internet shopper" town of Scotland
Recommend? Yes 21 No 1
Dec 2, 11:44
Yes, you're right Mr Muir because Amazon didn't exist before it appeared in Duloch and now everyone will flock there since Amazon sell EVERYTHING. I mean, why would you continue to go into town to pick up your purchases immediately when you can easily have them arrive 5 days later than you want them?.....
Of course, I'm being facetious but his point makes no sense. Yes, internet shopping will, in the long term, have an effect on retail. This is the way of the World, not just Dunfermline and so retail will have to adapt to survive. However, you can't attribute this to Amazon arriving in town since it previously existed before coming here. Just because the distribution site is here, you won't get your stuff quicker than you would have before so why would people suddenly abandon shopping in the town? It doesn't make any sense.
Recommend? Yes 17 No 6
Dec 2, 12:20
bobstheman is the man, he kens wot he's on aboot man, big muir duznae hae a clue man, if folk hav got jobs working ther then it means they hav got cash to go n spend in the high street, pure dafty Muir min
Recommend? Yes 14 No 13
Dec 2, 15:25
Unfortunate headline chosen for this article, as it refers more to the way Amazon arrived here and not to the company itself.
This manís words are a true reflection on local companies, employing local workers being shunned by Fife Council.
The Local Tourism Partnershipís hopes to attract cruise line passengers ashore to Fife should support Muirís Waterfront Proposal and realise what a bonus it could be for our area.
Recommend? Yes 24 No 2
Dec 2, 15:34
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Dec 2, 16:39
Dec 2, 16:41
It was the small business men who ran Dunfermline Council who prevented C&A, British Home Stores, et al opening in Dunfermline to protect their own business.
These individuals run a protectionist cartel in Dunfermline which resulted in higher prices for Dunfermline shoppers and new stores, C&A, British Home Stores, et al opening in Kirkcaldy.
Amazon is a threat to businesses who wish to remain in their own lucrative time warp irrespective of where their distribution centre is located; Amazon has been operating in Glenrothes for years.
I have said for years if the council move their small offices from all over the town to the City Chambers people will circulate there and where there are people there are potential shoppers; businesses could be encouraged to open at the bottom of the High Street possibly with the aid of a couple of council incentives.
It's not rocket science!
Recommend? Yes 20 No 0
Dec 2, 17:27
Like Route 66, I see two separate issues here.
As others have pointed out, the arrival of Amazon at the Duloch site will of itself have no impact whatsover on Dunfermline High Street, so this is a complete red herring. It is the general phenomenon of online retailing that is the threat. But even that will have an uneven impact, with some sectors being hit harder than others - books and music stores, for example. And retailers offering quality and good service will succeed. I've always thought that Pink String & Sealing Wax is a great business and an example of how to build a successful high street store. The Council should listen to what Mr Henderson has to say. Tradesman has an interesting idea on the City Chambers too.
Mr Muir's second point is about differential treatment of exciting-sounding inward investors (like Hyundai/Motorola/Freescale for example) compared to humdrum local businesses who've been quietly successful in the area for many years. It is a fair point. Scotland as a whole has proved better at winning internal investment than growing indigenous companies, so it's not just Fife.
But I cannot agree with the link to the proposed Scarborough Muir development. Amazon moved into a site that was always planned for industrial use. By contrast, the land on the Rosyth Waterfront would have needed a change of use to enable housing and leisure facilities to be built. I think Fife Council's determination to safeguard the land next to the port for future industrial use was sensible, not least as that, too, will create many jobs as and when it happens. There are plenty of other places in the area to build houses on. So there is a distinction, albeit one that I doubt Mr Muir and others would accept as being an important one.
I am, though, surprised that Fife Council seem happy to wave the Shepherd Offshore proposal through, given that much of the land currently zoned as employment land will end up covered in housing instead, with the inevitable additional strain on the local infrastructure, notably schooling. Maybe its just another case of the fast-talking folk from elsewhere wowing councillors and officials, while the locals, such as Mr Muir, don't get a look in.
Recommend? Yes 22 No 0
Dec 2, 20:26
And Tesco, of course will have no such impact on the high street. How did this guy ever build a company with this stupido approach? As Digs10276 points out, Amazon existed long, long before this warehouse arrived in Dunfermline. It has created jobs in Fife, but every single one of it's consumers could live anywhere in the country. High street closures (Woolworths, a prime example) don't happen because an internet giant sets up house on the doorstep. That is, is it not, the whole ethos of buying online, you do not need a high street anymore, if you don't want one.
Tesco has both, it will steal far more in Dunfermline, either in town or by internet than any Amazon warehouse. But it is consumer choice and consumer trend. It's only the same as previous planners moving everything out of town centres to "parks" and luring the consumer away from the town centre, telling Joe public "this is what you want" and away they all went, in droves leaving empty cinema/bingo/restaurants buildings in the town.
Recommend? Yes 19 No 0
Dec 3, 12:46
I was in Dunfermline for the first time in a long time last weekend. It was dire. Every shop I visited for various items of clothing was either out of stock of my size (I'm average sized) or they didn't have what I was looking for. How can these shops expect to do any trade if they won't make the effort to stock what the consumer wants. Is it any wonder I do most of my shopping online. It is just so much easier and stress free with no driving round in circles for car parking, sitting at traffic lights or negotiating cars in a so-called pedestrian zone. I have no sympathy for them and as mentioned above, move with the times and give the customer what they want, or face the consequences.
Recommend? Yes 26 No 2
Dec 3, 17:18
Dec 4, 20:32
Dec 5, 09:56
Dec 5, 11:18
Dunfermline Town Centre is a lot better now than it has been in years but still has a long way to go. The addition of the likes of H&M & GAP would certainly help & maybe a rates concession to entice small niche shops to the High Street would be a good idea.
The fact is though that you can buy just about anything from Amazon & Play.com at a discounted price & in most cases have it delivered to your house free of charge within a couple of days.
Its the world we live in & we need to find ways to adapt.
Recommend? Yes 4 No 1
Dec 5, 14:38
What a lot of tosh John Muir talks. Does he think that Amazon's customers will all mysteriously come from Dunfermline High Street shoppers? Is he missing the point that it will employ lots of locals?
And the diatribe about the waterfront takes a bit of beating. So Mr. Muir wanted to build some expensive homes for the well-heeled, overlooking the Forth on land zoned for industry and got turned down. If he had put in a proposal like Shepherd's he would presumably got the go-ahead but he didn't.
Recommend? Yes 8 No 9
Dec 5, 20:13
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Dec 5, 21:44
Dec 6, 09:52
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Dec 6, 22:17
Dunfermline centre was pretty lame before Amazon and indeed before anybody had home PCs, never mind online retailing. Quite why the move from Glenrothes to Dunfermline would spell the end for somewhere already lame is a mystery. People choose to go online shopping because it's cheaper. People choose to go to Livingtston etc for 'real' shopping for reasons such as the shops are larger and have better choice, they are not the 'entry level' branches found here; the parking is cheaper; you can at least walk in safety without fear of being run down by the constant movement of cars in a supposedly pedestrianised street.
Recommend? Yes 7 No 0
Dec 11, 09:17
Well said Mr Muir. If only Fife Council would listen to local business leaders, especially ones with so much experience.
I don't think it will just be Dunfermline High street that suffers from Amazon, I think High Street's country wide are suffering a slow death.
The biggest thing highlighted in this article is the attitude of Fife Council. If Mr Muir's company was Muir Construction (Newcastle) Ltd and was an incomer, they would be all over them offering them everything possible. However no successful Fife Company gets the same treatment and gets treated with jealously and contempt. It may be the defeatest Fife attitude whereby somebody local should go and get a job in the pits and not to get over ambitious.
Recommend? Yes 5 No 0
Dec 12, 15:02
Awwww poor Mr Muir - chucking his toys out the pram because his development didn't get the go ahead. I went to the local meetings held for residents about his waterfront development - couldn't get a straight answer if we tried. How many houses are you going to build - a straightforward question for someone who lives in Grampian Road and wanted to know how much more traffic this would cause on Ferrytolll road, was met with much shifting on the spot and an answer of erm we are not sure - even though they had the artist impression board all set up.
Anyway back to topic - i like Dunfermline for shopping, all they really need to do it sort out the shops at the B&Q retail park to encourage more people to come and shop
Recommend? Yes 1 No 1
Dec 13, 08:47
I have watched my local high street be decimated over the last two decades. The reason is very simple, and whether one wants to blame charity shops, parking, out-of-town centres or many of the other reasons given below, they all lead back to one place: local and national government.
High Streets are the victims of the usual inept management that we see almost everywhere else in the public sector. The people who currently run them have no idea and are usually driven by political dogma. So we have seen the socialisation of the high street: lots of empty (free) disabled parking spaces but little or nothing for able-bodies people; and cars banned from most central areas, but taxis and buses clogging the streets pumping out fumes. So what we have seen is a drift towards the old, infirm and unemployed inhabiting the high streets whilst busy working people avoid them.
There is a simple answer: give the high streets back to the business people to manage. Strip the local authorities of planning, transport and taxation responsibilities and let the retailers sort it out for themselves. Abolish the (rates) concessions for charities - it is simply self-defeating.
Recommend? Yes 3 No 0
Dec 16, 20:09
Done about 80% of my christmas shopping on Amazon this year and why not. Low prices, quick and free delivery, and they're very quick to help out when things go wrong including needing refunds.
And for this I can sit in a nice warm room, and not pay the rip-off parking charges currently in place in Dunfermline (for example it cheaper to park in Glasgow City Centre on a Sunday than it is the Kingsgate !!).
Go Amazon !
Recommend? Yes 3 No 0
Dec 17, 14:28
bahumbug,you got it 100% right about muir being a sad man because his project did not go through.I know he will never get over it.Irnbrubaby,well said about muirs toys,ha ha.Its ernie well said(tosh).Neillyj,pure daftie muir min,brilliant.Muir, you got defeated,ho ho ho
Recommend? Yes 1 No 0