‘It's a cathedral in a world heritage site’: St James Quarter release behind the scenes video and first look at shopping galleria

The St James Quarter development has been described as ‘a cathedral in a world heritage site’ by its managing director in a brand new video which has been released which takes viewers ‘Behind the Quarter’ with the team at one of the UK’s most significant city centre transformations currently underway.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Monday, 10th May 2021, 5:58 pm

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The video, which was released on Monday, May 10, contains exclusive never-before-seen footage of inside St James Quarter, featuring a special behind the scenes sneak peek of the stunning shopping galleria which will host over 80 brands and an enticing mix of restaurant and bars.

The first episode of the Behind the Quarter series features Martin Perry, director of development, Nick Peel managing director and Rochelle Burgess, marketing director at St James Quarter.

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The team discuss the St James Quarter journey so far - from concept to construction, details of the new brands opening next month, and share their thoughts on how the new lifestyle district is set to transform and enhance the city.

The video dives into the history of the site and showcases what is to come for Edinburgh’s new retail-led district and the team discuss the St James Quarter journey so far - from concept to construction, details of the new brands opening next month, and share their thoughts on how the new lifestyle district is set to transform and enhance the city.

In an overview of the 1.7 million square feet development, Mr Peel said: “When I look at the quality of the work, it is a cathedral in a world heritage site, future-proofed, digitally enabled.

“I think our development colleagues have done an exceptional job.”

The project began with the demolition of the former St James Shopping Centre began in 2016 and now, four and a half years later the ‘game changing’ Quarter, which is described by the team as ‘everything but a shopping centre’, is set to welcome its first visitors on June 24.

A first glimpse inside the galleria shows 'world class' retail fits

On opening day it is expected that around 60 per cent of retailers will be open, increasing to around 80 percent in the following months.

The first phase of opening will bring together brands from global to local, combining convenience and luxury with an offering that includes; Zara, Mango, Pull & Bear, Rituals, H&M, Kurt Geiger, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, as well as Dune, Bross Bagels and Salerno Pizza, ensuring there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The centre will also see many exciting brands making their Scotland debuts with; Peloton, Bonnie & Wild, & Other Stories, Bershka and Stradivarius offering their exciting products in Edinburgh for the first time.

The long-anticipated opening has been carefully planned to fit in with the wider plans for a safe reopening of the city.

Nick Peel, Managing Director, Martin Perry, Director of Development, and Rochelle Burgess, Marketing Director at St James Quarter

Health and safety remains at the forefront with social distancing expected to be in place. The galleria includes natural ventilation throughout, easily accessible public routes and connectivity from key surrounding streets, covered car parking on site and an integrated plan with the city’s events programme for upcoming celebrations.

There will be a series of launch events throughout the galleria for around 10 days and till to come in the latter phases of the development will be a W Edinburgh hotel, a boutique Everyman Cinema, Roomzzz Aparthotel, 152 New Eidyn residential apartments, and events programme in a range of new and attractive public spaces which will all gradually open over the 18 months following the initial phase of opening.

Behind the Quarter offers a first glimpse inside of the multi-use space, which locals and visitors to the Capital alike have been eagerly awaiting since the project began in 2016.

Throughout the development, cranes have dominated the skyline as it took shape, and the whole quarter was demolished before being rebuilt, dramatically changing the views across the Capital.

The team behind St James Quarter have released never-before-seen footage of the new development

Speaking about the development of the Quarter itself, Mr Perry, director of development, said: “We spent really the first two years demolishing and then excavating down to the lowest level and then the next two and a half years building back up."

He added that the site was ‘future proofed’ with the customer at the centre of everything they do.

The new development has an ambition to reinvigorate the shopping experience by marrying the traditional in-person retail experience with the digital.

Ms Burgess said: “I think in terms of innovation, we’ve been blending that physical aspect to the digital environment and trying to understand the guest from making a decision about coming to St James Quarter, or Edinburgh, how do we connect with them to their destination through our online marketplace right through to when they leave and after. It’s really future-focused.

"We aren't a shopping centre, we're creating this new district."

Speaking about event opportunities that St James Quarter had the potential to host, Mr Peel added that the team would welcome and encourage enquiries from both local businesses and those Scotland-wide which could engage in events such as - but not limited too - coffee weeks, seafood festivals or beauty and style events, and revealed that there are five local street food brands already lined up which will play a part at the grand opening and beyond.

QC and author Ross Macfarlane

Working with partners across Edinburgh, St James Quarter launched FUSE to provide a high-quality recruitment and training service for the 3,000 jobs it will bring to Scotland when its doors open in June.

As well as finding the suitable candidates for each role, FUSE focuses on developing careers by offering training and providing people with opportunities to achieve accredited qualifications.

This month, the St James Quarter and FUSE team up to create their first ever virtual training academy – open to anyone currently out of work or looking for a job in retail and hospitality.

The academy will host the top names in retail and hospitality, who will share the secrets of carving out a successful career in the industry. Each inspiring and informative session is free to attend and will give expert insight as well as providing valuable training tips for interviewing and creating the perfect CV.

The full ‘Behind the Quarter’ can be streamed on Vimeo.

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