Scottish Home Stores opens at former-BHS building

Scottish Homes Stores on Princes Street.
 Picture:

 Neil Hanna

Scottish Homes Stores on Princes Street. Picture: Neil Hanna

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For more than half a century it stood at the heart of Princes Street as one of the most recognisable names in retail.

Now the former BHS premises in the Capital’s premier shopping district has been given a unique, if temporary, facelift.

Princes Street.
Edinburgh's newest Department Store. Picture


 Neil Hanna

Princes Street. Edinburgh's newest Department Store. Picture Neil Hanna

Going under the name Scottish Home Stores, in a nod to its previous tenants, it stocks an eclectic range of goods including clothes, board games and tourist souvenirs.

However, it is expected the store will make way late next year as a £60 million revamp – aimed at transforming the site into a hotel and restaurant complex by 2019 – begins to take shape.

Opinion over the property’s temporary residents is divided.

Ann McFadden said she was delighted to see the building retained for retail use.

“I’m pleased to see that someone has actually taken it over – Princes Street would look worse off if it just lay empty,” she said. “The name doesn’t bother me and I don’t think the stock is that much different from what was in here before, but the main thing is that it doesn’t look abandoned.”

Paul Anderson, 47, was also happy to see the store open and praised the product range.

“It’s a nice older building and it’s been part of Princes Street for as long as I remember, so I’m glad it’s not lying empty. There will be a few people who object to the tourist-style souvenir shops, but there’s actually a lot more on offer here with the clothes section upstairs and some homeware items that don’t look out of place.”

But Lynette Jones, 53, said she thought Edinburgh had enough tourist shops.

“The name itself doesn’t really annoy me, but what’s inside and what’s in front of the store does,” she said. “It’s the same kind of stuff you see in every tourist shop and there are loads of them all over the city. We’ve had HMV close now as well, it’s going to get to a point where every shop on Princes Street is going to be the same tourist stores selling all the same fake-tartan tat.”

Her view was echoed by Graham Birse, director of the Edinburgh Institute, who said: “Edinburgh already has an excess of these kind of tourist shops and this is another example of that.”

BHS was forced to close its doors in July when the company went into administration.

Bosses at Scottish Home Stores said their aim had been to ensure the Princes Street building was not left sitting “stark and empty”, adding that up to 150 jobs would be created.

A spokesman said: “The positive feedback from people who have already visited the store has taken us by surprise.

“We are confident therefore that both visitors and local people will appreciate the range, quality and pricing of a diverse selection of goods.

“We are offering a broad product range, including attractive and value priced ladies, gents and children’s clothing with an excellent range for seniors. Alongside this we have a growing homeware department with soft furnishings, bedding and toiletries.”