As Bhs store set for revamp..
Edinburgh booming as top brands seek space
Edinburgh is enjoying a retail boom that is defying the gloom around the sector and the economy in general.
Rents are rising as prime units attract a growing number of top brands wanting to move into the city.
Two units in Princes Street are under offer to companies new to Edinburgh at rents well above the £200 per sq ft that has been the norm for years.
Some recent shops have been let for between £250 and £260. An extension to the Ann Summers outlet commanded £230.
The British Home Stores outlet is about to be brought to market following the collapse of the group.
There are plans to split it into two shops facing Princes Street with two restaurants and a hotel at the back and on the upper floors.
A £50m scheme is believed to involve demolishing the present store and replacing it with a higher building to accommodate the restaurant. There is already said to be a high level of interest.
Callum Mortimer, director in CBRE’s retail team, who recently let a store in George Street to the US cosmetics firm Bobbi Brown, said more big names were waiting to move in to the city.
“Bobbi Brown is a fantastic brand to get. We didn’t even market the unit.”
Both George Street and Princes Street are attracting growing attention which is pushing up rents.
“The demand from occupiers for small to medium sized units on Princes Street at present is incredible,” said Mr Mortimer. “Competition for space alongside a lack of availability is resulting in the prime rental tone on Princes Street dramatically increasing.
“Landlords are currently able to negotiate advantageous lease terms given the competition for space.”
He said the city is also benefiting from the St James redevelopment. Although it is some years away from being transformed, activity is already evident, he said.
The developer is pre-letting the new centre and interest is growing in nearby streets in expectation that the retail core will gravitate eastwards.
“Glasgow has always been Scotland’s retail capital but St James will really put Edinburgh on the map,” said Mr Mortimer. “There is a lot of demand and rents are going up.”
He said companies moving out of St James was also contributing to a rise in rents as they absorbed some of the empty space in the city.
Daily Business recently revealed that the St James developer had delayed demolition of the 1970s shopping mall until the autumn.