A MAJOR expansion of an award-winning Elgin gift store is a direct result of support from customers, says owner David Robertson.
Bijou, the card, gift and jewellery store and café in Batchen Street, which employs 17 people, was opened two years ago.
And he revealed to ‘The Northern Scot’ that a deal has been concluded to buy the adjoining property, previously occupied by The Float Room business.
Work has already started to create an extension to the store, which will also allow him to expand the popular café on the second floor.
It will be the first time in more than 50 years that the prominent Batchen Street building has been under the same ownership.
The redevelopment will take a month to complete, and Mr Robertson hopes to open the expanded store on October 27. The current store will continue to trade while the work is carried out.
Three new jobs will be created initially with the expansion, and between Bijou in Elgin, and a newsagent and card shop in Buckie, the family firm employs more than 40 people.
Mr Robertson thanked the public for supporting Bijou since it opened in June, 2010. "Our original aim was to bring something different to Elgin and Moray, and the support we have had from people has been excellent," he said.
"Elgin town centre gets a bad press a lot of the time, but there are a lot of good individual shops. We wanted to create a destination store which would bring people into the town and create more jobs, and it has worked really well."
In its first year, the store won Card Shop of the Year in Scotland and the UK, and Gift Shop of the Year in Scotland. It was also ranked in the top five contemporary jewellery stores in the UK.
Those accolades, and the support of the public, convinced Mr Robertson that the time was right to expand the business. He also praised Moray Council’s planning department for the way they handled the planning application.
"It is a beautiful building, and I wanted to make it look like one building again."
The new extension will open exclusively as a Christmas store at the end of October.