THE prospects of a new Primark store at the Capital’s Gyle shopping centre have moved a step closer after the latest ruling in a long-running legal wrangle.
The centre owner is trying to build over part of the car park so the cut-price clothes chain can open a new 55,000sqft double-storey outlet.
But retail giant Marks & Spencer – which was part of the joint venture to develop the centre and remains as anchor tenant – has objected to the plan, claiming it breached the terms of a lease signed with Gyle managers in 1990.
Clauses in M&S’s lease mean its agreement in writing is required for alteration to the area within the site allocated for car parking, roads or pedestrian routes.
The two sides went to the Court of Session in a bid to have the matter settled.
Now Judge Lord Tyre has issued a written judgement ruling it was “unreasonable” for M&S to continue objecting to the proposed development.
It has been estimated Primark’s arrival would be worth an extra £4.5 million a year in spending to the Capital which currently goes elsewhere, particularly to Livingston.
Discussions about the proposed new store date back to 2010 with the Gyle eager to see thousands of young Primark shoppers flood through its doors.
Last year, 20 store managers at the centre, including those from Boots, Monsoon, Clarks, Gap, Disney, and Thomas Cook, signed a letter to management expressing “frustration at the protracted delays” over the project.
Lord Tyre made his decision after hearing evidence from Gyle centre manager Andrew Cronie and architect Kenneth Williamson.
Lord Tyre wrote: “Their evidence was to the effect that the Primark development would be beneficial to the Gyle Shopping Centre as a whole and that the loss of car parking spaces which the development would entail would not render the shopping mall or the shared areas materially less adequate, commodious or convenient to the defender than they are at present.”
Primark was founded in June 1969 in Dublin’s Mary Street by businessman Arthur Ryan and Micaela Mitchell. It currently trades in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Portugal and Spain.
The firm generated more than £4 billion of revenue in the 2012-13 financial year.
In a previous ruling, Lord Tyre accepted M&S’s argument that its representatives on the centre management committee did not have the power to commit the company to agree to the Primark plan.
An M&S spokeswoman said: “We are considering our options and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”