Leith businesses in window-dressing contest for £3000

Abder Elqmacha at his Cafe Ecos on Leith Walk
Abder Elqmacha at his Cafe Ecos on Leith Walk
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It might not be considered the city’s most fashionable shopping area.

But Leith is in line for a transformation as businesses smarten up in a bid to become “top of the shops”.

The Shop Idol contest will see more than 600 independent retailers, restaurants and businesses invited to compete for the title of most improved window display – with a top prize of £3000.

The winner will be decided by the public on Facebook and a panel of judges in a vote.

Isobelle Hodgson, managing director of Visobelle Displays in Prestonpans, will host a free window-dressing masterclass offering tips and tricks.

She said: “The competition is a superb idea and it will make a massive difference. It’s going to give shop owners the incentive to put everything in to their window displays. Leith is so busy, so there will always be room for improvement.”

Isobelle, who has 26 years’ experience in window dressing, said: “Our main goal is to give people ideas that they can take away with them and try on their own.”

The initiative is part of the city council’s commitment to improving town centres across the city.

Abderrahim Elqmache, 43, whose Moroccan theme cafe-shop Ecos opened six months ago, has already thrown his hat in to the ring.

He said: “I feel I can win the competition because I have a special shop here – I think it’s the only one of its kind in Leith.

“I’ve got lots of lighting in the window, traditional Moorish furniture and tagines. It’s a beautiful cafe.”

But for some the scheme is “too little, too late” after trade was hit by the tram works.

David Griffin, manager of Elvis Shakespeare Books and Music, described the contest as a “gimmick”.

He said: “Any money would be gratefully received, but £3000 is a paltry pittance for the business that has been lost through the mishandling of the trams project.”

Councillor Tom Buchanan, the council’s economic development convenor, said: “By simply taking care of the appearance of their shop fronts, businesses will help to drive more customers through the door.”