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Stores make move

New Look and Hackett make switch to new St James Centre

St James development Edinburgh

St James opens in the east end next year (pic: Terry Murden)

Fashion stores New Look and Hackett are joining the exodus from Princes Street and George Street by taking units in Edinburgh’s new St James centre.

They follow Zara and Next, who have already committed to moving into the £850 million development which opens next year.

More high-end fashion names are being lined up despite concerns about the current plight of the retail sector. Property and retail professionals, as well as the city council, have been anticipating a shift in retail towards the east end which has also seen the emergence of restaurants and hotels around St Andrew Square.

It is not known what terms are being offered to entice tenants to St James but with landlords across the country under pressure to lower rents it is likely that St James’ owner is able to lure occupants on attractive rates.

Martin Perry, director of development at Nuveen Real Estate expects more brands to exit the West End for St James as the closure of House of Fraser has removed a retail anchor in the area.

He said: “Everything we have done with the design is about trying not to damage the city. We have purposely not gone to retailers in the city centre but we have had to deal with some of them.”

Retail properties at the West End of Princes Street are seen as the most vulnerable with values dropping.

However, this may encourage alternative uses, such as restaurants, boutique hotels and fitness centres. The Frasers store is being converted into a major Johnnie Walker visitor experience.

St James is on schedule for completion in October 2020 and within budget.

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