Fashion stores New Look and Hackett move to St James centre as fears grow for Princes Street

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Fashion stores New Look and Hackett have joined the exodus from Princes Street and George Street by agreeing to move into the new St James Quarter when it opens next year.

They follow Zara and Next, who have already committed to moving into the St James from Princes Street.

It is understood that units at the £850 million shopping centre are filling up rapidly with top high street and more high-end fashion names despite concerns about the economic impact of Brexit uncertainty.

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The move will fuel concern about the impact that the opening of the St James will have on the shopping vitality of Princes Street and George Street and speculation that more stores may follow suit.

The Edinburgh St James centre.The Edinburgh St James centre.
The Edinburgh St James centre.

The Evening News understands that Hackett and New Look will both move their stores to the new centre from George Street and Princes Street respectively.

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Change of Use

Edinburgh City Council held a public consultation in August and September on a proposed ‘change of use’ to allow food and drink outlets, and the issue is due to be discussed at the December Planning Committee.

Garry Clark, East of Scotland Development Manager of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said the organisation is ‘very supportive’ of the rule change.

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“Retail, even on Princes Street, is not the retail we had 20 years ago,” he said.

“The St James Centre will take up most of the retail offering in the city, and Princes Street will need a more diverse offering, with some retail in there.”

Mr Clark said that potential new uses for the iconic street could include residential properties and office buildings, as well as bars and restaurants.

“We would want to see opportunities for independent businesses. It would make Princes Street more attractive, and make it a place where people want to spend time,” he said.

World-class Retail

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Joanne Davidson, Head of Policy and Innovation at Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, also supported the change of use.

“Pragmatic development is in everyone’s interests. As a city, Edinburgh has to both grow to its potential while at the same time stewarding the essence of what makes it one of the best places in the world to live, work and grow a business in,” she said.

We need world class retail, office and residential space in the right places to maximise both the quality of amenities and the quality of life in the city,”

We believe that encouraging full and varied use of Princes Street is a positive move for Edinburgh’s economy, but careful consideration should be given to ensure this proposal fits in with the ambitious plans that the City of Edinburgh Council has for city centre as a whole.”

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A spokesperson from the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group said: “Edinburgh is a growing and vibrant city and it is only right Princes Street continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of residents and tourists alike.

“The ongoing development of the Diageo Johnnie Walker Experience, combined with the proposed changes to the CEC planning policy, demonstrates that there is a unique opportunity for Princes Street to become something really special, offering residents and visitors alike new experiences beyond the traditional retail offer.”

Chris Pyne, Leasing Director at Edinburgh St James, said: “We are holding discussions with a number of occupiers, who see the advantages of taking space in what will become a new focal point for Edinburgh’s retail, dining and leisure scene. That said, we do not comment on confidential negotiations whilst they remain just that.”

New Look and Hackett could not be reached for comment.