The launch of the city’s first Apple store has the potential to spark the largest retail boom in the Capital since Harvey Nicks, business experts have claimed.
Retail chiefs insist the arrival of the technology giant on Princes Street – whose £1 million outlet is due to open next Saturday – will lead to an huge influx of shoppers to the city centre.
It is expected to provide the same commercial fillip achieved at St Andrew Square in the years following Harvey Nichols’ launch in 2002 – a coup that paved the way for Multrees Walk.
Today, experts said the Apple store could rejuvenate the East End by attracting a huge increase in shoppers and rival the commercial influence seen with Harvey Nichols a decade ago. Andy Neal, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, said the store could mimic the “Harvey Nichols effect”.
He said: “This is certainly one of the most historic openings in Edinburgh and it has the potential to have the same sort of impact as Harvey Nichols had ten years ago.”
Apple is currently the world’s most valuable brand – and has been ranked the “coolest” trademark three years in a row – fuelling hopes its Edinburgh store will not only provide a shot in the arm for Princes Street but also help transform the long-neglected back streets around Register Lane.
Plans have already been mooted to create a £97m retail and leisure district in the warren of lanes laying behind Princes Street and linked to St Andrew Square and the new £850m St James development.
John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said the new Apple store could act as a “trojan horse” attracting more quality brands to Princes Street and surrounding lanes.
He said: “This is probably the biggest statement since Primark opened [in December 2011] both in terms of a brand statement and a statement of confidence. Apple don’t open stores anywhere. If Apple is going in then other quality brands will follow suit.”
Business expert Graham Birse said the store could send footfall soaring by up to 20 per cent. “I think it’s recognition of Edinburgh as a knowledge economy and as an innovative city, and as an attractive place to live, work and study,” he said. “Because of that and the atmosphere and the culture that goes with it, brands like Apple are attracted to the city.
“It’s a bit like Apple pinning a badge on Edinburgh that says ‘creative city’, and that’s a good thing.”
Lots of excitement in store
Apple is just the latest iconic brand to take to the Lothians. Ikea, below, threw open its doors in November 1999 and, in 2002, Harvey Nichols unveiled its £10 million St Andrew Square store, right, with the help of Ewan McGregor.
Primark launched its Princes Street outlet in December 2011 – just in time to catch the Christmas rush. But nothing compares with the chaos that met the opening of Krispy Kreme, which took in £60,000 on its first day and caused traffic jams more than a mile long.
‘Regent St’ reinvention at East End?
IT was branded “rubbish” by experts – a once prestigious corner of London tarnished by “old cashmere shops”.
Then came along Apple, prompting a stunning transformation which has seen Regent Street become a haven for top brands.
Now, hopes are high the tired stretch of Princes Street in which the trendy tech giant will open next week will enjoy a similar meteoric rise.
Following the arrival of Apple to Regent Street in 2004, a host of big-names followed suit. Europe’s first branches of Banana Republic, Anthropologie and Guess soon opened – before Ferrari roared into town in 2009.
When US retailers look at locations in Europe, Regent Street is now their first port of call.
And it’s all thanks to Apple, according to industry magazine Retail Week, which named it the brand most likely to “transform the retail landscape” of an area.