Fort’s bid to battle it out for shoppers

The man was found near Ocean Terminal
The man was found near Ocean Terminal
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A NEW cinema complex and department store are set to be built on the outskirts of the Capital, the Evening News can reveal today, as Fort Kinnaird goes to war with Ocean Terminal in a battle to attract new shoppers.

A NEW cinema complex and department store are set to be built on the outskirts of the Capital, the Evening News can reveal today, as Fort Kinnaird goes to war with Ocean Terminal in a battle to attract new shoppers.

Fort Kinnaird Retail Park

Fort Kinnaird Retail Park

The Newcraighall shopping centre will attempt to establish itself as an upmarket rival to the Leith docks shopping centre with a major expansion.

A preliminary deal has been signed with Debenhams to create a new 60,000sq ft store at the east Edinburgh shopping centre, while manager British Land is understood to be in early negotiations with Odeon to create a new cinema complex.

Discussions are also believed to be underway with TGI Fridays to match the restaurant offerings of its Leith rival.

City planners gave British Land permission to expand the site in April – bringing an extra £22 million in revenue and 400 new jobs. There has been no cinema in east Edinburgh since the Odeon at Fort Kinnaird – the city’s first multiplex – was demolished in 2007 to make way for an expansion.

If approved, the move is likely to create hundreds of new jobs for young people in particular.

Rob Hadfield, property director at Debenhams, said: “Fort Kinnaird is one of Edinburgh’s key retail destinations, providing flexible and well-configured space. We look forward to working with [site owners] Gibraltar to develop a first-class store to meet the needs of the local catchment.”

Other recent additions to the shopping centre include a major new shop fit of Next’s existing unit to transform it into a flagship store of 38,000sq ft, Smyths Toys, a 15,000sq ft store, will open at the end of this month creating 30 new jobs, and Mamas & Papas, the upmarket baby and nursery store, will complete the new lettings with a 8400sq ft store.

The expansion of Fort Kinnaird is controversial as city centre retailers, including John Lewis, argue that out-of-town shopping centres are detrimental to ensuring Edinburgh continues to thrive.

As the Evening News revealed in April, Ocean Terminal owner Resolution is already taking city planners to court over the decision to grant the expansion.

Andy Neal, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, the body representing city centre traders, said the growth of out-of-town shopping centres is of great concern to businesses.

He said: “In principle, Essential Edinburgh doesn’t favour anything which would make the city centre less viable in any way and would not look favourably on any new out-of-town development.

“Our members are concerned they are unfairly penalised when it comes to expensive parking in the city centre compared with the free parking out-of-town shopping centres can offer.

“We’d like to see some kind of a level playing field.”

Professor Neil Towers, deputy director of research at the School of Management and Languages, at Heriot-Watt University, believes Fort Kinnaird will be targeting shoppers who must travel from east Edinburgh to visit Ocean Terminal or the city centre for a cinema and department store.

Only when the tram works are finished on Princes Street would it be clear if there has been a significant impact from shopping centre expansion, he added.

British Land said it could not comment on discussions concerning the new cinema but said Debenhams would be a major asset to the retail offering.

Dan Clark, the firm’s asset manager, said: “Debenhams’ decision to locate at Fort Kinnaird is a great reflection of the park’s popularity and importance to the local area.”

He added: “Our plans for Fort Kinnaird will ensure that it remains a premiere shopping location.”

ANALYSIS

Professor Neil Towers, Deputy director of research at the School of Management and Languages, at Heriot-Watt University.

Fort Kinnaird will be able to offer people in east Edinburgh something they currently have to travel for, and that’s a good thing for consumers because competition will lead to the best experience.

Consumers are short on time and very savvy, and they will gravitate towards the outlet which has the best retail offering – Livingston performs very well because it offers everything.

Indeed there will be more competition between Ocean Terminal, Livingston and Fort Kinnaird.

With regards to Edinburgh city centre, traders have been affected by the lack of access so no one really knows what will happen until the trams start operating.

Primark and New Look have recently opened new stores and, in their case, I see congestion as a short-term issue. Whether Fort Kinnaird will take any trade is down to the shopping customer.