Fort Kinnaird revamp generates 1800 jobs

Footfall at Fort Kinnaird has jumped by more than 12 per cent in the ''past year. Picture: contributed
Footfall at Fort Kinnaird has jumped by more than 12 per cent in the ''past year. Picture: contributed
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BUSINESS is booming at Fort Kinnaird retail park after a triple boost from film, food and fashion firms.

The opening of a cinema and the arrival of new restaurants and top clothing brands have seen footfall at the centre increase by more than 12 per cent in the past year. And centre bosses say the local economy has also gained, with almost 1800 jobs created last year.

But the success of the out-of-town centre, just off the A1, may not be such good news for the city centre, with people living on the east of the Capital now finding so much of what they need close at hand.

Fort Kinnaird’s Odeon cinema, which opened in March, has drawn record crowds for the year’s major blockbusters including James Bond film Spectre and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Favourite eateries Chiquito, Ed’s Easy Diner, Five Guys, Frankie & Benny’s, Nando’s, Pizza Express and TGI Fridays are now all part of the restaurant strip at the retail park.

Retail brands which have moved in include Fat Face, Simply Be and Primark, which threw open its doors in December.

The centre said the decision to extend opening hours had also been a hit. Shops now open earlier, at 9am, on Mondays to Saturdays, and stay open until 10pm on weekdays.Centre manager Liam Smith said: “This has been an incredible, busy, exciting past 12 months here at Fort Kinnaird.

“The rise in footfall tells us we have got it right – by increasing the offering and making Fort Kinnaird more than just a shopping centre, but a great leisure experience where anyone can enjoy a day or evening out.

“We’re also thrilled that this success has created jobs and is really helping the local economy. We now look forward to continuing to welcome new customers in 2016.”

Business expert Graham Birse, director of the Edinburgh Institute, said Fort Kinnaird was clearly attractive and convenient for people in East Lothian, Midlothian, Musselburgh, the Borders and the east side of Edinburgh.

“With all retail now, it’s a combination of experiences, not purely shopping – it’s cinema, meals, entertainment all under one roof,” he said.

He said Fort Kinnaird, though not as big as some out-of-town developments, now offered that kind of experience.

But he said once it was built the St James Quarter would have a similar appeal in the city centre. “Fort Kinnaird might represent some threat to the city centre in the short term. It’s unfortunate that Edinburgh has slipped down the retail rankings from the top ten to the top 20. But in the longer term the city centre has a unique attraction with museums and galleries and the George Street cafes, bars and restaurants.”

He warned, however, that the city had to be careful over transport, access and parking: “If it’s too difficult or expensive to get the family to Edinburgh or to park, that’s when other attractions become more appealing.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com

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