A national project to ‘revitalise the High Street’ is promising to create over 200 jobs in Ayr.

A retail expert has recently bought over the vacant BHS outlet on Ayr High Street and plans to transform it into a hub that goes beyond shopping and into a destination of choice for locals and visitors.

Now, with the takeover looming, Mercier Mainwaring is calling for backing from South Ayrshire Council and local MP Bill Grant to push for its development in Scottish Parliament.

Mercier told the Ayr Advertiser: “I’m taking shopping space and I’m making them into imperiums so that they’re not just a one trick pony. My outlet will have a hairdressers, coffee shops and different services, not just shops. It will be a destination for people to go to.

“We get the keys this week so we will want to open in May or June this year.”

Mercier’s initiative will see him open up 100 outlets across the UK, with Ayr being the very first. He said there will be a minimum of 200 jobs created.

He added: “The retail trade is my passion and it has been devastating to witness the demise of the High Street, and the subsequent removal of so many household brands which has resulted in major job losses.

“I believe that there is and will always be the desire for customers to shop by interacting with other shoppers as opposed to surfing the internet for goods.

“The work starts with shopfitting and staff being trained for the various roles so they could become available as early as April.”

Speaking of the challenging decline of the high street, Mercier added: “We’re going into the fire. It’s not dead, there’s still a lot on Ayr high street. M&S is next door and is very very busy. If they’re trading, they don’t close, it’s as simple as that.”

He said he has tried to get South Ayrshire Council on board to discuss a potential rates reduction but he added: “They didn’t do much for us moving this forward.”