Upmarket city street ringing up new stores

A TRIO of shops have signed deals to move on to Edinburgh's most upmarket street in a major boost to the city's retail sector.

Danish jewellery chain Pandora has officially opened the doors of its first branded store in the Capital, on Multrees Walk.

It follows on from the recent arrival of luxury chocolate company Kschocolat and designer shoe shop Daniel Footwear.

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The shops have all opened on Edinburgh's designer district, between the St James Centre and Harvey Nichols, as retailers gear up for a make-or-break festive period after a tough year.

Tom Campbell, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh – the company established to run the city centre business improvement district – said: "Edinburgh city centre is a fantastic retail centre, both in terms of its offering and in terms of its ambience.

"Gaining new and quality retailers is a measure of the faith that the industry has in Edinburgh."

The store openings come in units that have been lying empty for some time and had been used as adverts promoting the city centre by Essential Edinburgh. It means that the street is nearing full occupancy for the first time, with only two units now empty.

Other big-name brands on the 'designer boulevard' include Louis Vitton, Calvin Klein, Firetrap, Emporio Armani, Oscar & Fitch and Mulberry.

The owners of Multrees Walk said today that footfall is still running ahead of this time last year.

Steve Spray, director of Multrees Walk, said: "These have been difficult times for retailers but Multrees Walk seems to have continued to trade well and the new lettings show that. Visitor numbers are up over 10 per cent on 2008."

A spokesman for the new Pandora store said: "Edinburgh is a busy and increasingly cosmopolitan city and we felt the time was right to open a store in the right location at the heart of the city."

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Earlier this month, figures released in the Scottish Retail Consortium's Scottish Retail Sales Monitor showed a 1.5 per cent increase in like-for-like sales in October this year compared with October 2008.

Richard Dodd, a spokesman for the SRC, said the three new store openings reflect a growing confidence in the retail sector ahead of the critical Christmas season.

"There is no doubt that the mood is better and consumer confidence is higher now than 12 months ago," he said. "However, you have to bear in mind that things were really pretty dire 12 months ago.

"All the evidence shows that confidence is higher than at any time for 18 months and customers are more willing to spend money than they have been for some time."

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