“…one of the most intelligent pieces of urban renewal” – Writer Bill Bryson

The Challenge

From the research the client had conducted, they determined it was feasible to develop a ‘Covent Garden’ shopping centre for the north in Glasgow. The site chosen was a 1840’s Georgian building in Buchanan Street situated in the heart of Glasgow’s central shopping district.

Our client’s challenges were:

  • Attracting high-end retailers to sign a lease was obviously critical.
  • The shopping centre would have five floors of high-end retailing requiring the same level of rentals for each floor. This hadn’t been achieved successfully before.
  • All the tenancies had to be fully leased within six months of the centre opening.

To not achieve this would put the success of this development into question.

There were two significant obstacles to overcome the challenges our client faced in changing the mindset of high-end retailers who would be weary of signing a lease:

  • Research had shown there was a large enough market of high-end shoppers, but given the perceived reputation of Glasgow, would the Centre deliver an shopping experience that would attract these high-end shoppers.
  • Demonstrate that foot traffic around all the floors, whatever level the tenant was on, would be the same.

The challenge for us was twofold.

  • Demonstrate in advance of the finalised design and construction, a compelling shopping centre experience to potential high-end retailers, to take a lease before or within six-months of opening.
  • Secondly ensure this compelling shopping centre experience was designed and built staying true to the pre-sales promise.

The Solution

Our solution in designing a compelling shopping experience that high-end retailers could see would attract their target customers to the shopping centre (particularly to their store) was addressed in several areas: 

  • The shopping experience had to be meaningful for Glaswegian target market. To do this, we referenced the heritage of Glasgow’s history in innovation and its arts, to create a sense of pride in their city.
  • The shopping experience had to appeal to these high-end shopper. We did this by leveraging Glasgow’s own rich architectural history, drawing inspiration from Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s own inspiration, namely the Vienna Succession movement, the Arts and Crafts movement and Japanese art to achieve this.
  • Finally to encourage these high-end shoppers to move both horizontally and vertically over all five floors of the shopping centre, we used a variety of experiential tools designed to engage and fascinate them.

The Result

The ROI for our client has been significant:

  • The final building cost per sq. metre was lower than traditional shopping centres at the time.
  • The Centre was fully leased within six months achieving the rental yield the client wanted.
  • There’s a timeless quality to the Centre that avoids having to meet market short term trends. The client has only had to maintain the building since it’s opening. Last year was the first time they carried out a minor redesign and renovation.
  • 30 years later there are 50% of the original retail tenants still trading there. This has created stability and confidence of yield for the owner.

For the people who shop there, it is as busy today, as it was the first day it opened, proving it’s still as relevant today as it was when it first opened.

The evidence of its popularity is best demonstrated by the fact that in 2016, Princes Square was voted Scotland’s best building of the last 100 years.

The Glaswegian community are rightly proud of this shopping centre development.