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Grays of Edinburgh to close after 190 years

Published: 2 September 2009
Ironmongers set to close its doors in March next year as a number of senior staff retire.
Grays of Edinburgh to close after 190 years
After more than 190 years of trading, Grays the Ironmongers in George Street, Edinburgh is to close in March 2010.

The announcement follows a decision by the company to close the store to coincide with the retirement of a number of senior staff, including Brian Smellie the current owner and managing director. Grays will continue trading as normal, with its final January sale next year acting as its closing down sale.

Commenting on the closure, Brian Smellie said: "It is an appropriate juncture to close the store as a number of our staff, including myself, are either at or nearing retirement age. We feel that this is the natural time for us to close the store."

"We have looked into ways of allowing things to continue but neither I nor my senior colleague, Jim Burns, have family interested in following in our footsteps. A number of options have been considered but we feel that this is the correct decision."

Members of staff were informed of the decision last week and Grays has stated that it is committed to giving support to its staff in finding suitable alternative employment.

The company was founded by James Gray in 1818, when Walter Scott first revealed the Honours of Scotland, and was initially located in Leith Wynd. The firm moved to George Street in 1850, initially to number 85 and then to its current location at number 89 in 1903.

Mr Smellie added: "We are extremely grateful for the support we have had from several generations of loyal customers over the years from Edinburgh and beyond. Their custom has been greatly appreciated. We hope the many hundreds of fireplaces we have installed in Edinburgh over the years will be part of our legacy. We feel sure that the city centre and George Street in particular, has a vibrant future.

"We also pay tribute to our staff whose dedication and hard work has allowed Grays to enjoy the sustained success it has had. Over the years we have been fortunate to have a good calibre of staff and high levels of continuity and loyalty, which has assisted us greatly. Grays has maintained its final salary pension scheme over the years and longer serving staff that are nearing retirement will benefit from this. We will do all we can to help remaining staff to find suitable employment in the area."

"It will be the end of an era when we close our store next year after such a long history, particularly associated with the city centre. Most hardware and ironmongery shops have long since departed from city centres but we have enjoyed selling our practical household goods amongst high class ladies fashion and jewellery shops."


Published prior to March 2014
By Anonymous
what a loss! this wonderful shop always had what you couldn' get anywhere else We will miss you and hope all the staff who have been polite and helpful find there is life after Grays !
Published prior to March 2014
By fiona
Been ther all my life where wil I go now
Published prior to March 2014
By Debbie Spence
My mum shopped at Grays, I shopped at Grays and as said many times before it was the one shop I could always depend on to have the one thing I could not find anywhere else. I was intending to head for Grays next weekend to get an item really I cannot find anywhere else. I am devastated and no overstatement. You really do not know what you have until you have lost it.
Grays and all the helpful staff will be greatly missed.
Published prior to March 2014
By Veronica
We will miss everything about ths wonderful shop.... where you are treated with respect. It will become another part of history
Published prior to March 2014
By Ann
Sorry to see you go.I was coming into the shop one day when two young girls were passing and one said to the other " All the old ladies love that shop."I don't feel so old but I also loved to visit that shop. Thank you for all your help.Will miss you.
Published prior to March 2014
By N J Brown from Ayrshire
Yes - I echo the sentiments of so many to hear of the closure of such a fine firm. Being realsitic however means overcoming sentiment. My wife's trips to Edinburgh always seemed to include Grays. It certainly is a sad day and as has been said, the end of an era. I wish Brian Smellie and all his staff well in the future - and would just mention this is the first time I have felt moved to leave a comment like this on an Internet website!
Published prior to March 2014
By Anne Wild
Over the years when I needed that certain something I always knew that I would be able to get it at Grays, What will I and many others do now ? Sorry to see you go.
Published prior to March 2014
By Kathy Henderson
I can't believe that this is about to happen! Whenever we're back 'home' visiting relatives and friends we come armed with a list of things we know we'll be able to get at Grays, Without doubt we and others will be losing a long standing friend... please reconsider!
Published prior to March 2014
By Christie
Over the years there have been many occasions when I have thought 'where on earth will I get that...oh, I know Grays will have it!' - and they always have. How sad to see them close, they will be missed greatly.
Published prior to March 2014
By David
A very sad day for George Street, Edinburgh, Scotland and beyond. All the best to Mr. Smellie and every member of the staff. My parents, our family and I have enjoyed shopping for quality goods at Grays over many, many years, and can only pay this small tribute to the extremely helpful and knowledgeable service they provided.
Published prior to March 2014
By Interested
What a sad day when an independent like Grays decides to close its doors, it is indeed the end of an era when a company trading this long closes.

Good luck to all concerned.
Published prior to March 2014
By john fowler
It is so sad to see such a fine store , well run and managed is to close, one of the few real Hardware shops left.. I wish Mr Smellie and the staff well, It is sad there seems ot be no room for such Shops in the Town squares and High streets anymore, John Folwer , bexfield Scissors
Published prior to March 2014
By BHF Member
I t will be a sad now when Brian Smellie retires, a true honest gentleman, and a true member ans an excellent President of the BHF, they will miss him. good luck in your retirement

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