SAINSBURY’S will today open a new flagship store in the West End – and revealed it was attracted to the site BECAUSE of the trams.
The supermarket giant has snapped up the former Habitat building on Shandwick Place next to a planned tram stop. The company believes the store will be popular because of the additional footfall the new trams will bring, when they begin running in 2014.
The news runs counter to a number of traders who have folded in recent years blaming the tram works on Shandwick Place for ruining their business. But a Sainsbury’s spokesman told the News: “The trams are a great attraction for us. The store will be very close to the tram stop.”
The new Sainsbury’s – which was due to open today at 9am – is also the first store in Scotland to include an enhanced fresh food offer which includes a salad bar, hot food and fresh pizza counter, which has been a hit south of the Border.
More than 50 new jobs have been created and the firm said it would add more when the tram works are completed next summer.
The listed building itself has an impressive history, housing the Rossleigh car showroom when the area was a bustling shopping mecca in the past.
To reflect the heritage local artwork and designs have been commissioned for the store with the results on display.
Unlike previous stores – which have faced battles with local independent traders in areas like Brunstfield – the business has been welcomed to the area.
Michael Apter, chairman of the West End Association, said the move was a rare boost for the city district, which has suffered extensively due to the on-street utility diversions and subsequent track laying.
He said: “The West End is a busy part of Edinburgh with a great mix of independent and high street names.
“The opening of a new Sainsbury’s store on Shandwick Place is a welcome addition to that mix, and is a clear demonstration of their faith in the future of the area as a retail destination”.
Jamie O’Brien, the new store manager, said: “Shandwick Place is a first class high street location, in close proximity to a tram stop, and we anticipate being able to grow the job numbers once the tram is up and running.”