IT’S a retail complex located next door to Waverley station – but many of the rail hub’s 25 million annual passengers would be forgiven for missing it entirely.
Now bosses at Princes Mall want to bring the train station “into” the shopping venue in a bid to boost its profile and capitalise on the closure of the St James Centre.
They have unveiled proposals to install arrival and departure screens alongside ticketing machines in the centre’s food court as part of a rebranding which will see their building renamed Waverley Mall.
It is hoped the £4 million transformation – which has already seen the mall’s aisles widened and ceilings restructured – will encourage passengers to shop by providing them with direct access to travel times and ticket information.
Mall chiefs said the centre’s position below street level meant travellers were often oblivious to its presence, adding that the rebranding was aimed at highlighting links with the station.
Advertising screens running the length of Waverley Steps will also be erected to promote firms trading within.
The move comes as the mall’s managers continue negotiations with St James tenants seeking alternative accommodation before the centre closes for redevelopment.
Martin Botha, the centre manager, said: “We want to provide our customers with an offer where they can sit and enjoy their meal without having to rush down to the train station, so we’ll have new departure and arrival screens within our food court, ticket machines where they can grab their tickets and relax before they rush down and grab their train.”
Princes Mall quickly established itself as one of Edinburgh’s most popular shopping destinations after it was opened by the Queen as Waverley Market in July 1985.
But its fortunes later waned amid a perception it was focused on the youth and fast food sectors. Now, with footfall growing 20 per cent year on year, centre bosses want to widen its appeal.
Ilan Goldman, portfolio manager at mall owner Catalyst Capital, said: “You can’t ignore where we sit – wedged between Princes Street and the station. This has to be a bit more ‘all things to all people’.
“A lot of the mainstream fashion retailers – ideally, they’d look at Princes Street and if they can’t find a home there because of high rents then they’ll look elsewhere and that’s where we’re attractive.”
Mr Botha added: “Historically, our footfall print is more from the younger market and what we’re looking to do is create a modern, contemporary setting where families can enjoy a great shopping experience.”
Amanda Tarrant, manager at Spud-U-Like, which has a branch in the food court, said: “I think there’s more of an open, family atmosphere here – it’s enjoyable for everyone now.”