Store prepares for rebuilding work

John Lewis to expand as part of St James redevelopment

John LewisJohn Lewis has confirmed that its Edinburgh store will expand as part of the rebuilding of the St James shopping centre.

The store will remain open throughout the four-year demolition and reconstruction work but will temporarily lose 30,000 sq ft of trading floor from the current 160,000 sq ft. When it is complete the floorspace will increase to 165,000 sq ft.

John Lewis had threatened to vacate the centre when it was initially told it would lose more than 50,000 sq ft during construction. A compromise was reached late last year.

Some departments will be moved around and operate from smaller areas to accommodate building work, but all 640 staff will be retained. A new trading floor on level five will include a new restaurant and consumer electronics department. New entrances will open this week.

A fire exit is to be installed from the top level of the centre to allow for the removal of the modernist bridge which crosses Leith Street. It is understood that the city council is seeking an alternative use for the bridge.

Demolition of the unloved 1970s St James Centre will begin in May, as revealed by Daily Business in February, and will make way for an £850 million retail, leisure and residential quarter being developed by TH Real Estate, owned by TIAA-CREF.

St James HotelIt is the biggest urban regeneration project in Scotland and will include four floors of shops, 30 cafés and restaurants, a multi-screen arthouse cinema, 250 apartments and a controversial ‘ribbon’ hotel with 250 beds (right) which has been criticised by heritage groups for its potentially adverse impact on one of the world’s most famous townscapes.

Retail and property experts, however, believe the scheme will push Edinburgh up the league table of retail destinations.

The John Lewis partnership last week announced that all 90,000 staff in the stores and the Waitrose supermarket chain will receive a 10%-of-salary bonus, the third successive cut, after  reported “tight” trading conditions. Pre-tax profits before exceptional items fell from £342.7 million to £305.5 million for the 52 weeks to the end of January.

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh Commercial Enterprises, which makes the most of the institution’s impressive buildings, to help safeguard the College’s globally important work.

The redevelopment of the Edinburgh St James also means the closure of the King James Thistle Hotel and the end to the popular ‘Jamie’s Evenings’ which have run there for 40 years, entertaining tourists.

 The refurbished Royal College of Surgeons is to offer the Slàinte Scottish Experience to help fill the gap.

St James 2
New Leith Street view with John Lewis on right



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