Old fruit market reborn as Edinburgh West Retail Park

Manager Alyson Crombie at the M&S outlet at Chesser. Picture: Toby Williams
Manager Alyson Crombie at the M&S outlet at Chesser. Picture: Toby Williams
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IT has lain derelict for 15 years – an abandoned relic of a bygone age.

But now the former fruit market in Chesser Avenue has been transformed into the Capital’s latest retail park, attracting bustling crowds back to an area of the city that has long been neglected.

A fruit wholesalers' display at Gorgie fruit market in Chesser Avenue Edinburgh, August 1983. Picture: Jack Crombie

A fruit wholesalers' display at Gorgie fruit market in Chesser Avenue Edinburgh, August 1983. Picture: Jack Crombie

Opening its door to customers this morning, the £38 million development boasts 58,500sq ft of shopping space as well as much-needed housing.

And developers hope the hub – dubbed Edinburgh West Retail Park – will bring a new lease of life to an area once heaving with traders, farmers and locals hunting for a bargain.

Taking prime position will be a new Marks & Spencer Foodhall, creating 67 jobs and boasting a 42-seater cafe – complete with takeaway menu.

The store’s launch this morning was set to be attended by a piper, drummer and Edinburgh and Scotland rugby player Sam Hidalgo-Clyne.

Shop manager Alyson Crombie said her team has been working “around the clock” since last Friday to prepare for the big opening.

Ms Crombie, from Inverleith, has worked for M&S since graduating with an English degree from St Andrews University in 2009.

The ambitious 28-year-old started as a customer assistant during her summer holidays before working her way up.

She said there would be fruit tasting at the Chesser Avenue store throughout the day to mark the historic link with the old market – as well as a fruit basket for the first customer through the door.

She added: “We’ve already had some great feedback from the local community, with lots of them commenting on the M&S cafe and how delighted they are to have one right on their doorstep.

“This is just day one and we’re excited be a part of the Chesser community and are looking forward to getting to know our customers as they visit us in store.”

Staff at the Foodhall have also pledged to raise money for Autism Initiative over the next 12 months.

Ms Crombie said: “It’s a fantastic charity and one which is very close to the hearts of many of our employees. We’re setting ourselves a challenge to raise funds in fun and interesting ways and getting the local community involved as we go.”

As well as M&S, Aldi, Home Bargains, Poundworld and Costa Coffee will occupy four of Edinburgh West Retail Park’s eight units, with a 286-space car park offering easy access for motorists.

Bosses said the new Poundworld “super store” would boast more than 5000 products across 6000sq ft, creating 30 jobs.

Area manager Shirley Watson said: “We’re excited to welcome customers through our doors.”

The 8.5-acre site also includes 114 new homes, with 80 consisting of council units built with public money from the Scottish Futures Trust.

RBS led the development alongside partner Ediston Real Estate. BP Pension fund, which financed the project, will now take over operation of the site.

alistair.grant@jpress.co.uk