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Xile, Edinburgh

With product centre stage, Drapers’ Young Fashion Retailer of the Year is a mecca for trend-conscious shoppers.

Walk into Princes Mall shopping centre, off Princes Street in Edinburgh, and independent young fashion store Xile shouts its presence from both the ground and upper floors.

A 3,000sq ft unit on the ground floor boasts full-height windows, while a pillar outside mirrors the artwork on the fascia and lists the must-have brands that lure Edinburgh’s fashion-conscious shoppers. This unit is the second of Xile’s shops in the mall – the other is a 2,000sq ft menswear emporium on the upper level, which has traded since 1991.

The ground-floor store, which opened two years ago after two units were reconfigured into one, is dubbed “the fashion shop” by buying director David Weeks. It stocks men’s and women’s brands in a storefit that smacks of urban utility, with a brushed concrete floor and unconcealed heating vents and lighting.

Womenswear takes up 800sq ft in-store and hosts labels including Fornarina, Adidas Y-3 and Replay, topped up with short-order brands such as Gorgeous Couture, while a 700sq ft Diesel corner sits among the menswear at the other side of the entrance. Other menswear labels on offer include what Weeks describes as his “best of British”, including Lyle & Scott, Barbour, One True Saxon, Duffer of St George and Paul Smith.

Weeks says: “It is a line-up that suits casual lads who like their football and want to be wearing the right label, or the cool kids seeking out something different from the high street. None of the brands we stock fail to earn their value in terms of square footage. Our worst-performing brand in this store last season had 69% sell-through.

“The shopfit suits Xile, which has always aimed to be authentic. We wanted a factory-style look. It’s also a cost-efficient design because it avoids some of the fit-out costs associated with shopping centre stores – it makes a virtue out of the unit’s raw shell.”

The till area is situated in the centre of the store, dividing the men’s and women’s areas, and the layout is designed to tell customers where they are in the store. Weeks says: “A lot of our customers don’t want or need help in this shop. They know what they are looking for and want to pick it up, try it on if necessary, and then buy it. So making sure we have all the available sizes out is key. It’s quite a service-light store, whereas the store upstairs has a more sales- and service-led approach.”

Xile, which won Drapers’ Young Fashion Retailer of the Year Award in 2007, has four stores selling multi-branded fashion and trades over a total of 10,000sq ft. As well as the two stores in Princes Mall there are two out-of-town shops at Ocean Terminal, the reinvigorated docklands area of Edinburgh, where the retailer has a 2,800sq ft menswear unit and a 1,500sq ft womenswear shop.

Xile’s owner Pat O’Flaherty has also opened G-Star and Replay franchise stores in the city, and there is a second G-Star store in Aberdeen, with a third opening in Glasgow at the end of August.

Xile Princes Mall, Edinburgh EH1 1BQ

Year the business was founded by owner Pat O’Flaherty
10,000sq ft: Total trading space of Xile’s four stores
11 months: The age of Xile’s fully transactional website

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