Big name retailers set to open stores in the Capital

Edinburgh had more shops opened last year than anywhere else in Scotland. Picture; Toby Williams
Edinburgh had more shops opened last year than anywhere else in Scotland. Picture; Toby Williams
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A string of top retail names are setting up shop in the Capital as it undergoes a mini revival.

Clothing chain TK Maxx, electric car-makers Tesla, fashion retailer Jaegar and cosmetic firm Bobbi Brown are just a few of the big brands opening stores in the city.

More shops opened in Edinburgh during the first half of the year than any other part of Scotland, ahead of the £1 billion redevelopment of the St James quarter.

A new report out today said 36 new outlets began trading in the city centre between January and July – four more than Glasgow.

Edinburgh also experienced the biggest number of store closures – but the vast majority can be attributed to the St James Centre shutting down.

In total, 3.7 per cent more shops opened in the Capital in the first six months of this year compared to 2015, slightly higher than the national average of 3.6 per cent.

However, the figures from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) painted a bleak picture for Leith, which saw no new shop openings and four closures, not including Ocean Terminal.

Graham Birse, director of retail think tank the Edinburgh Institute, described the report as “hugely encouraging” for the city centre amid increasing numbers of shoppers taking to the internet.

He said: “Edinburgh has done brilliantly to recover from a number of store closures and I believe we can look forward to a bright retail future.

“With the redevelopment of the St James Centre well under way, we can look forward to a number of high-quality retailers arriving in the city which will cement Edinburgh’s place as a retail destination.

“We can’t overlook the fact that a proportion of these retail outlets fall under the category of temporary or interim leases, particularly the ‘tartan gift shops’ that have sprung up recently, but when those leases expire, it’s important to replace them with better-quality stores to encourage footfall.”

While 82 outlets closed their doors in the city centre over the period, most are linked to the St James centre, which saw 60 stores shut.

And major casualties elsewhere included the nationwide collapse of British Home Stores and HMV losing its lease on its Princes Street branch.

However, the research found that seven per cent fewer stores were operating in Leith in July compared to January, which business leaders have branded cause for concern.

Federation of Small Businesses development manager Gordon Henderson said: “We need to recognise that the city has many local community town centres in need of support, not just the city centre.

“Leith and Leith Walk are packed with a fantastic variety of small businesses so perhaps the low new openings figure simply reflects that the right premises have not been available.”

A total of 203 stores in Scotland closed in the first six months of 2016, a rate of 1.1 outlets a day.

Lindsay Gardiner, regional chair for PwC in Scotland, said: “While the figure of 203 closures is higher and seems more dramatic, it averages out at just over one closure per day which has been the Scottish average for most years since 2012”

newsen@edinburghnews.com