ONE of Ayr’s oldest high street stores will close after over a century of business - resulting in 81 job losses.

Hourstons on Alloway Street told staff last week they would lose their jobs in the next few weeks when the department store closes its doors on February 7.

The popular shop has been one of the busiest stores in Ayr for decades and is another massive blow to Ayr town centre.

General Manager of Hourstons Linda Lawson was saddened by the decision that had to be made and said that modern retail forced the shop into closing. Linda said: “It is with genuine regret that we have to confirm the closure of Hourstons with the loss of 81 jobs.

“Hourstons has been trading on Alloway Street for 123 years and has employed generations of local people, made a point of supporting local businesses and has actively rais ed thousands for local charities.

“Sadly the way we shop has changed radically in a short space of time and although we may lament the closing of such an iconic store it is merely the reality of retail today.

“As General Manager of the store and an employee for the last 18 years I would like to thank my colleagues, our business partners and customers for their loyal support and kindness over the years. It has been an absolute privilege to have been part of this Department Store and I wish everyone well for the future.”

South Ayrshire Council leader Douglas Campbell was also disheartened by the news. He said:“Hourston’s is synonymous with Ayr high street and its loss will be felt throughout South Ayrshire and beyond. This really is a very grim start to the year for the town centre in Ayr.

“Our focus right now is on doing everything we can to support those people who will soon be out of work.

“Our employability and skills team will be on hand to provide information, advice and support to help identify alternative employment opportunities.

“We will always try to achieve the best possible outcomes for everyone affected by this difficult situation.

“We do remain committed to delivering on our ambitious plans to transform Ayr town centre and make sure it offers a healthy mix of social, cultural and economic opportunities for local people and visitors. However, there’s no doubt thatthe bright future we envisage for the town is a good bit duller today with this sad news.”

The Scottish Government has pledged to offer supportto the 81 people who will lose their after MSP Emma Harper raised the shop’s closure in Parliament last week.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: “Mr Hepburn will be involved as Business Minister and PACE are involved as well where there is the situation of redundancies.

“So that’s the first point, there will be Scottish Government involvement through SDS and PACE as I’ve touched upon. “Retail is under pressure right across the whole of the UK.

“That’s part of the reason that in the draft budget we’re proposing to give some relief around business rates. This is really important to help retail at this point in time, particularly in town centres - 90% of all properties will payless than they would if they were south of the border.

“That’s an important point around business taxation, but also in investing in our town centres. We’re proposing a £50m town centre fund as well.”

Emma Harper MSP offered her support on the issue. She said: “I would like to assure my constituents affected by this closure that I have been in close communication with the Business Minister, Jamie Hepburn and local councillor, Siobhan Brown on how those made redundant can best be supported.

“This is heartbreaking news for a long standing Ayr institution and I have had a number of constituents contact my office to tell me they’ve been using it for decades and are devastated to see it close

“If anyone would like to get in contact with my office for advice or support please phone 01387 255334 or email”