THE owner of Wilkies store in Largs has said that her recent plea to keep the store in business has fallen on deaf ears.

We recently reported that the Bath Street premises is missing out on grant funding due to the fact that eligibility for the scheme is different in Scotland than in England.

With the Scottish Government announcing business rates relief of a year, MSP Kenneth Gibson told the News he was hopeful that stores such as Wilkies would benefit, but Karen Forret, the firm's managing director, says it is still very much 'dire straits' for the business with an expected shortfall due to social distancing when they are allowed to reopen.

Ms Forret said: "The grants announced for each property was our lifeline as we would have received £350,000.

"However when we started applying, we found that Scottish businesses were not being offered the same support for retailers with multiple properties and in fact we would only receive £25,000 for our 14 Scottish stores, including Largs.

"After weeks of trying to get our voices heard we will now receive £112,500 less in grants - and we need to wait a month longer than businesses south of the border.

"We appreciate the rates holiday, we will need it.

"When we tentatively reopen, with social distancing in place to protect staff and customers, sales will drop considerably but we will have the same costs to cover."

Asked what more help is required to meet the shortfall, Ms Forrt added: "We need the same grant support as businesses south of the border. Not 75per cent but 100 per cent support for multiple properties. We have two stores with a rateable value less £18K and there is no support for these stores in Scotland, but there would be in England.

"These grants are our lifeline and a fraction of what we contribute to communities we serve, the government, councils and NHS through National Insurance payments, if we don’t get the grants this contribution stops.

"The furlough scheme to protect our employees is pointless if we are not getting the support to get us back on our feet and trade post coronavirus.

"We need the Scottish Government match what is being given by Westminster."

Largs MSP Mr Gibson said: "We have actually added £220 million more to support our businesses than if we had followed a UK model which helps fewer businesses, especially the smaller ones.

"This has increased the grant to Wilkies.

"If we did what Wilkies ask, many other local businesses would get nothing and support across Scotland would fall by £220 million.

"Wilkies understandably is looking to its own interests. However, we have to consider all types and sizes of businesses across Scotland."