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Edinburgh to clean up Royal Mile retail offer

Edinburgh City Council is to crack down on tourist shops on the city’s historic Royal Mile in a bid to improve the profile of the area.

In a move that could attract independent retailers to the stretch, council officials will dictate what kinds of retailers can operate on the Royal Mile and clamp down on souvenir shops. The action comes two years after the council first made plans to tackle the issue.

Council leader Jenny Dawe has vowed to become more “proactive” over the Royal Mile by managing the look of the shops and the product they sell, according to The Scotsman newspaper.

Dawe vowed to address local concerns about the decline of the street’s profile in 2007. It emerged last year that the council is the biggest landlord of property on the street.

Alan Marshall, department supervisor for Slaters Menswear in nearby George Street, which sells Helly Hansen and Ben Sherman said: “The Royal Mile has got so flooded with souvenir shops and the council is trying to vet it. It is a tourist street so it’s difficult to get the balance. They are serving a niche but there are too many of them. It’s the way they do their merchandising, not so much what they sell. It’s claustrophobic when you’re walking down there.”

The move to improve the area was unveiled in a “physical regeneration plan” drawn up by council officials. City development director Dave Anderson said: “There is an opportunity to improve the retail offer on the Royal Mile.”

A council spokesman added: “There isn’t to be a ban on tartan tat, but we want to promote a balance in retail.”

Sarah Gilchrist, manager of womenswear indie Variations on nearby Bruntsfield Place, said: “I think every small indie is a positive - they could make the place look more inviting. The traffic up there is tourists and are they looking for clothes or tacky souvenirs? If there was space I’d have a look.”

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