Businesses play musical chairs with lower rent bills the prize  - Kevin Buckle

The rise and rise of F&B continues in Edinburgh city centre as it was agreed last week that a record shop could be replaced with an Americana-themed bar and restaurant.

It has taken me a while to remember to say F&B as I always say food and drink but the professionals insist on food and beverage. This latest news was that FOPP in Rose Street was soon to become a restaurant, cafe and cocktail bar as part of the Mojo chain.

There is no news yet of FOPP’s future but it would not be a surprise if they were to relocate given the number of nearby empty properties and deals to be had.

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Certainly the opening of HMV on Princess Street has done FOPP no favours but their models are sufficiently different to allow for both to operate in the city centre.

FOPP on Rose Street is to be turned into a restaurant, cafe and cocktail bar
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Time will tell how that particular situation will pan out but nearby the empty Vodafone shop opposite Waverley Market put up signs in the window last week saying the coffee chain Black Sheep were going to open and were looking for staff.

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Now I had seen this change of use approved a while ago but when I saw similar signs further along Princes Street not long after I assumed there had been a change of heart and Black Sheep had chosen different premises.

However it would now appear they intend to open two coffee shops on Princes Street which is certainly brave. Just along from the old Vodafone unit is Monsoon who are moving to George Street so as one empty shop is filled another becomes vacant.

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This may become even more common as businesses that intend to stay in the city centre can get a far better deal by moving than they can get by renewing their lease.

There are also rumours that the St James Quarter, whose main purpose was to be a leading shopping centre for major brands, will change its focus to being an F&B hub with the retail almost being a bonus.

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All reports are that those serving food and drink in the quarter are very happy with how things are progressing while those in retail see figures well below their expectations and other outlets.

Quite where this leaves Waverley Market is hard to say but with so much uncertainty we may well be seeing the current drinking establishments on the roof there for some time yet before and building work commences.

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The jobcentre’s arrival in the dead space behind the escalator from Waverley Bridge to the food court has been a success and I would imagine it has brought in a decent income.

The vaccination centre has also given the NHS a much needed central location that seems to be popular with all ages. If the rumours are true that the large empty Superdry space off the Waverley Steps will occupied by Christmas then there is certainly reason to be optimistic.

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There is however no room for complacency and I would be happier if more people came into Waverley Market looking for shops like Avalanche rather than stumblling across us when escaping the rain but hopefully that can be addressed in the future.

For now though in Princes Street and George Street at least we can expect more musical chairs as businesses look to reduce their rents.

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