A SUPERMARKET chain is closing its West End store – but retail experts insist the area’s resurgence in the wake of tram works remains on track.
Morrisons is set to quit its prime Shandwick Place location amid fierce competition with rivals Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Tesco all close by.
Thirty jobs are being axed by the shopping giant as it also shuts the Gorgie Road branch of its “M” convenience stores, citing poor performance.
Business chiefs said the Shandwick Place closure was more to do with “intense competition” than it was a reflection of poor trading conditions in the West End generally.
Edinburgh Napier University business commentator Graham Birse said the area was definitely “on the up” and that the closure of the stores appeared to be linked instead to a “supermarket war”.
He said: “There is intense competition for convenience supermarkets in this area.
“You have a Tesco Express in that territory, a Co-op, a Sainsbury’s not that far away, a Marks & Spencer at Haymarket and various small independent supermarkets.
“But there is no doubt that this area is on the up and a tram premium is heading down the track, with improvements to Haymarket and the development of the Morrison Street goods yard.”
Mr Birse predicted that the Morrisons site would be “attractive” to both tenants and developers, though not necessarily other supermarkets.
Gordon Henderson, senior development manager of the Federation of Small Businesses, said Shandwick Place had been much busier since the arrival of the trams and that he had seen considerable renovation work, with many empty units being turned into restaurants.
“But I don’t think anyone could argue that the West End is struggling for supermarkets.”
The “M” convenience stores are the last two in Scotland, with a total of 23 branches set to close across the UK in the next year.
A Morrisons spokesman said: “We regret to say that we are proposing to close our Morrisons ‘M’ local stores in Edinburgh.
“This process has been extremely difficult. We have looked at a whole range of options to make the store viable but none gave us confidence that we could run it successfully. We will now be going through a consultation process with colleagues to ensure all options are discussed and we will be supporting them in the meantime.
“Our aim is to reduce any job losses, where possible, by finding roles elsewhere in our organisation.”