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Shopwatch: Glorious Glasgow

The hottest retail destination in the UK outside the capital, Glasgow has the pulling power to hook in the biggest names in retail, from high street heavyweights to premium indies. Drapers hits the ground to find out more.

Buchanan Street, Glasgow

Buchanan Street, Glasgow

The second-biggest shopping destination outside London, Glasgow has the power to attract fashion’s biggest names. From Buchanan Galleries and the St Enoch Centre in the heart of the city, to Silverburn, Intu Braehead and Glasgow Fort out of town, Glaswegians are spoilt for choice.

New names continue to enter the city. Massimo Dutti is set to open its first Scottish store on Buchanan Street on March 18, and Fourmarketing’s newly opened 18 Montrose concept store  will go toe to toe with menswear independent End Clothing once it opens in the former Aspecto site on Ingram Street.

“There are always new brands looking at Glasgow,” says Ross Wilkie, director of Colliers International, which represents retail landlords in the city. “We have a concentrated population of 660,000, reaching 2 million in the wider region. The culture of people in Glasgow is to spend their money. As a shopper I would come to Glasgow every day of the week over Edinburgh because the proposition is stronger.”

High footfall has helped Buchanan Street landlords increase rents by 7% over the past year – the highest of any shopping area in Scotland, reports John Menzies, partner at retail property agent Cushman & Wakefield.

“If you’re an international retailer, you will gravitate to Buchanan Street, as it has the footfall. Out-of-town retailing is dominated by high street multiples, but the more upmarket brands want to cluster in the city centre.”

With the planned extension of the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre on hold, the mid-market St Enoch Centre is pushing on with plans to increase its leisure and retail mix. Victoria’s Secret, Burberry and & Other Stories are all seeking a foothold in the city, so Glasgow’s retail future looks bright.

Glasgow’s vital statistics

Source: Dhiresh Bhardwa, principal consultant, location strategy and analytics, CACI

  • After London’s West End, Glasgow city centre is the second-largest retail destination in the UK. By comparison, Edinburgh is the UK’s 13th largest retail destination
  • Clothing and footwear retailers represent 15.2% of city centre stores – almost double the UK average of 8.5%.
  • Glaswegian spend per head on fashion is nearly 10% higher than the UK average
  • There are twice as many students in Glasgow than the UK average (5% and 2.5% respectively), equating to a 30,000-strong student population
  • One-in-five consumers (21.3%) are classified as ”affluent achievers” by footfall analyst CACI’s Acorn consumer segmentation, representing 130,000 people
  • Premium retailers account for 37% of the retail offer in Glasgow city centre
  • In Glasgow £1 of every £5 spent on comparison goods is from domestic and international tourists
  • Clothing and footwear retailers account for 40% of offer at the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre in the heart of the city. Of the retailers in the city centre, 54% are classified as premium
  • Glasgow draws consumers from within a 20 mile to 40 mile radius from the city centre

110 Queen Street


110 Queen Street

More than two years in the planning ahead of its June 2015 debut, 110 Queen’s Street is a mixed-use development comprising 140,000 sq ft of offices and four retail units totalling 20,400 sq ft. Emporio Armani opened a 6,300 sq ft flagship in February. Argentinean steakhouse Cau has taking another unit, leaving two shops of 5,000 sq ft and 5,100 sq ft avilable.

“Mixed-used office space and retail is a growing trend,” says Mark Broderick, development director, Scotland, at the scheme’s developer BAM Properties.

“We want the development to create a link between Ingram Street and Buchanan Street. People in Glasgow are all really fashion orientated and they’re willing to pay money for brands. They’re happy to invest in their aspirations and retailers respond to that.”

The revamped Pretty Green store on Glasgow's Buchanan Street

The revamped Pretty Green store on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street

New concept: Pretty Green

Premium menswear brand Pretty Green brought a rock ‘n’ roll retail aesthetic to its revamped flagship on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street.

Opened on February 25, the listed building spans 1,600 sq ft of trading space on the ground floor, a 200-capacity gig and exhibition area upstairs, and storage space on the floor above. Taking 11 months from concept to completion, the store was designed to reflect the label’s rich musical heritage, explains visual merchandising manager Oliver Morgan.

“We wanted to channel various musical influences in an authentic way, from the Mods to 1960s rock. We see the store as a music venue and the clothes are the main act. So the store opens on Green Label, like the entrance to a gig, then moves into our premium Black Label in the backstage area, finishing with the chill-out area at the back, which is like the VIP lounge.”

The whole concept reflects this musical message from the walls, lined with wooden cladding to look like soundproofing, to the double-height ceiling arena-style rigging lighting. Wallets are stacked in the flight cases used by musicians to transport their instruments, and aged tables crafted by indie workshops add to the authentic look.

And to celebrate the opening in true rock star style, Pretty Green hosted a gig with Dundee indie band The View for 100 fans on the night of the big launch.


Leslie Docherty


Q&A: Leslie Docherty

Owner of menswear independent Fat Buddha, 73 St Vincent Street, Glasgow

Brands: Edwin, Patagonia, Carhartt, Nike, Asics, Reebok and Adidas


Fat Buddha

Fat Buddha

Menswear indie located in the Glasgow city centre.

  What is the Glasgow retail scene like?


Glasgow is edgy. It’s a city of DJs, great clubs and good nightlife. Our shops attract people from as far away as Kilmarnock, Dundee, Greenock and Gourock. Whereas in Edinburgh the consumer earns decent money but he doesn’t want to spend it, the Glaswegian shopper is interested in the latest brands and wants to show what he’s invested in. We also benefit from a big student population. I find Chinese students are more interested in brands, whereas Japanese students are obsessed with detail, obscure pieces or heritage brands.

How do you feel about the new menswear indies like 18 Montrose and End Clothing?

The more good people the better I say. I would love Glasgow to do well. End is a good indie – I like what they do. We already have indie chain Cruise, which has real buying power, but they’ve had it their own way for years so it will be interesting to see how the competition fares. Montrose Street is not really a shopping location – it’s mostly dominated by office blocks, but it’s pretty quiet on a weekend, so it will be interesting to see how they do.

How do you feel about the development of the city centre?

This area on St Vincent Street has turned into a real food area. Whereas before there used to be Aspecto around the corner, now we’re next door to a Costa and opposite a Handmade Burger Co. We’re planning to move to a new city centre store in June, although no contracts are signed just yet. While the likely site is probably going to be 20% smaller, we’re planning on making it into more of a lifestyle store featuring men’s grooming, books, magazines, art supplies, bags and accessories, which all sit really well alongside the fashion.

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