ENGLISH department store chain Beales is to pick up where a shopping institution ended as opens its first Scottish store.

The Bournemouth-based retail chain operates from more than 20 sites in England and has chosen Perth for its first foray into the Scottish market.

The company has acquired the St John Street premises vacated by local shopping institution McEwens after it went into administration last year with the loss of more than 60 jobs.

Confirming the news, Beales chief executive officer Tony Brown said he was delighted with the move.

The doors are expected to open by November in time to welcome Christmas shoppers.

Brown said: “We recognise Perth to be one of the most innovative cities in Scotland with a great heritage and a forward-thinking council.

“We are confident that Beales will be able to meet the needs of our new customers in Perth and surrounding area, continuing Perth’s tradition of offering all that is best from a local, independent department store.”

Founded in 1868, McEwens had traded at the site for almost 150 years and was a key part of the city centre’s retail offering.

Its closure came after negotiations with lenders and potential investors failed.

Perth and Kinross Council leader Ian Campbell said the Beales move was “fantastic news” for the area, stating: “The former McEwens building is a flagship site in the city centre and it will be great to see it coming back into use, particularly as home to an established independent business.

“The decision by Beales to make Perth the location for their first Scottish store is a ringing endorsement of our city as a place for business investment and growth, and I look forward to seeing them open their doors to new customers later in the year.

“Part of this new council’s focus will be to put real extra effort into growing the excitement and vibrancy of Perth. We welcome Beales, and are delighted they have chosen Perth for their first Scots store.”