George Street traders have reacted with anger after a two-storey Morrisons advert was erected in the middle of the exclusive shopping precinct without their knowledge.
Bosses at fashion retailer Hobbs have been forced to announce that its Edinburgh branch isn’t being replaced by a supermarket, despite the sign hoisted on to scaffolding above the store declaring: “I’m your new cheaper Morrisons.”
And the supermarket giant was facing embarrassment after it emerged that it had not sought the correct planning permission before putting up the advert.
The city council said it was put up without going through its advertising consent, so if anyone makes a formal complaint, enforcement officers will be sent round.
Managers and staff at neighbouring boutiques say the advert, in Morrisons’ trademark bright yellow, is out of step with George Street’s trendy, well-heeled image.
“I don’t think it should be there. There’s nothing wrong with Morrisons, but for George Street it’s not very appropriate,” said Jennifer Stewart, supervisor at fashion retailer LK Bennett.
“My opinion is that it’s quite gauche and a bit clumsy for quite a stylish street, and it’s a bit misleading in that people could infer there’s a Morrisons coming into that space,” said Andy Neal, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh.
A spokeswoman for Hobbs said it wasn’t told the advert would be installed, adding: “The tone does not appear in keeping with George Street.”
The advert appeared over the weekend as part of a national publicity campaign on the part of the firm, which is fighting falling sales by slashing prices on 1200 items.
The campaign has already attracted flak elsewhere.
An image of a giant baguette was projected on to the Angel of the North sculpture in Gateshead, prompting its designer, Antony Gormley, to say he would “rather the Angel is not used for such purposes”.
Today, the supermarket insisted it had sought permission for the advert.
A spokesman said: “With seven stores in Edinburgh, Morrisons has a significant retail footprint in Scotland’s capital. We wanted to place a big bold advert in the heart of the city to make sure our customers were aware of our fantastic new cheaper prices.”