‘Copycat’ Waterstones store threatens Stockbridge indies

Waterstones plan to open a new store, 'Stockbridge Books', on the controversial Accies site.
Waterstones plan to open a new store, 'Stockbridge Books', on the controversial Accies site.
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BOOKSELLERS Waterstones are to open a new shop in the Capital as part of the controversial Accies development.

The Raeburn Place Foundation, which is behind the plans for a new stadium, shops, cafe bar, function suites and a museum at the Edinburgh Academical Sports Ground, announced a lease had been signed for the bookshop to occupy one of nine units to be built fronting onto Comely Bank Road.

The book chain also announced it would brand the shop Stockbridge Books. But that provoked accusations that it was “masquerading as an independent bookshop”.

Julie Danskin, manager of Golden Hare Books in St Stephen Street, complained that Waterstones managing director James Daunt had promised last year that “their copycat indies would only open in areas with no independent bookshops”. But she added “this is exactly what is happening - and it’s happening in our neighbourhood”.

Ms Danskin said: “This is a change and quite an aggressive change in direction.”

And she said Waterstones had adopted the same approach in several shops in the south of England. “They have completely different branding and there is only a hand-written sign in the window saying it is operated by Waterstones.”

She also argued the name was “insensitive” because local people still remembered with fondness the former Stockbridge Bookshop which had had to close some years ago.

But she did not expect her own business to suffer. “We believe we will keep going strongly - we are enough part of the community and offer something a bit different that people will still choose us.”

Mr Daunt said Waterstones was delighted to opening in Stockbridge. “It is an area of the city in which we have long wished to have a shop and Raeburn Place Foundation’s development offers a wonderful space in which to do so. It will be a tad smaller than our Princes Street flagship and, like every good bookshop, will draw its personality from its community and neighbouring shops. In consequence, we will be calling it Stockbridge Books and look forward greatly to its opening.”

Foundation chairman David Newlands said they had been keen to ensure a good mix of tenants who would attract people to Stockbridge, with positive benefits for the whole area.

“We are delighted to have secured Waterstones as a tenant. As a national chain, they are recognised and reliable, but they are also seriously committed to providing bookshops that become part of the local community, as highlighted by their willingness to trade as Stockbridge Books.”

A Marks & Spencer food shop, taking up three of the units, was unveiled as the anchor store for the development in December 2016.

The foundation said it was in negotiations about the lease of other units and work on the project should begin at the end of June or the beginning of July with completion due next summer.

The Evening News revealed last month that the foundation had launched an appeal among former Edinburgh Academy pupils to raise £2.5 million in six weeks to fund the project.