Glasgow & West Scotland

Queues outside Watt Brothers amid bargain rumours

Watt Brothers queues
Image caption Shoppers gathered early on Saturday but many were disappointed by the discounts

Long queues of bargain hunters gathered outside the Watt Brothers department store in Glasgow a day after the firm collapsed.

Rumours of big clearance discounts tempted shoppers but many were disappointed when they got inside.

More than 200 staff have lost their jobs after the chain went into administration on Friday.

Watt Brothers was formed as a limited company in 1915 with a flagship store in Glasgow's Sauchiehall Street.

The firm had a total of 11 stores across Scotland, selling a wide range of items including fashion, electrical, homeware, jewellery, gifts and beauty products.

But Blair Nimmo and Alistair McAlinden of KPMG were appointed joint administrators on Friday, with 229 of its 306 employees made redundant with immediate effect.

Image caption The flagship Glasgow store opened on Saturday for stock clearance

Many of those who gathered outside on Saturday were long-term customers who were saddened by the chain's demise.

One woman said: "We went to it for years and it's really sad that it's closing down.

"It's a shame for all the staff - there's loyal staff in there."

Another elderly customer commented: "My mother and my granny all went to Watt Brothers. I cannot believe it."

Others said they had heard rumours of rock bottom prices at the Glasgow store - the only one still open on Saturday - but found the discounts were far less than expected.

"The talk about the prices was a lot of rubbish," said one woman.

She added: "There were a lot of very old pensioners - and they were standing outside shivering. One of the bosses should have come out and said to come in and get some heat."

Image copyright Watt Brothers/Facebook
Image caption Allan Watt founded Watt Brothers as a limited company in 1815

The fourth generation family firm began when a Lanarkshire farmer's son Allan Watt set up a drapery shop in Glasgow to bolster the family business.

During World War One, in 1915, Watt Brothers was officially formed as a limited company, and it moved into its flagship store on the corner of Hope Street and Sauchiehall Street.

By the 1960s it had six stores across Scotland, and further expansion later added another five stores to the group with revenue peaking at £24m in 2018.

Like many high street retailers, however, the firm has struggled with online competition, and increased revenue did not translate into profit.

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