PEOPLE: John Lewis to stay open if St James work begins

RETAIL stalwart John Lewis has confirmed it will stay open if and when a massive revamp planned for the St James shopping centre in Edinburgh ever gets the go-ahead.

John Lewis's head of retail said the company was not prepared to move from what will be a building site for three years. Picture: TSPL
John Lewis's head of retail said the company was not prepared to move from what will be a building site for three years. Picture: TSPL

Talks are said to have reopened with the mall’s owner, Henderson Global Investors, about the £850 million overhaul now that the tramworks are nearing completion.

Andrew Murphy, John Lewis’s head of retail, who formerly ran the Edinburgh store, said the company was not prepared to move from what will be a building site for three years.

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He is confident the retailer will be able to trade through any building works without too much disruption to sales.

He said: “When we refurbished Edinburgh in 2001-2, we worried about that. We spent £35m, it took us 20 months. We were convinced we were going to lose 15 to 20 per cent of our trade.

“We lost 6 per cent during that time. Loyal customers are incredibly resilient about these things.”

So, you’ll be wanting your tea, Mr McEwan?

ROYAL Bank of Scotland’s new boss is ­determined to put the customer first and was treated to tea and cakes last week for making the effort.

Ross McEwan, who took up the reins last Monday, arrived in Edinburgh and headed for Mimi’s Bakehouse on the Shore in Leith, run by Michelle Phillips.

The New Zealander believes the bank has to rebuild trust with its grassroots customers and has some new ideas. But nothing much works better than meeting face-to-face, so he is expected to make many more trips to those loyalists sticking with the state-owned bank.

All work (with some child’s play) for busy Tasmina

THE line-up of speakers at the latest Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce referendum series included a mum-of-four, a lawyer, a Bollywood actress, the chair of the Scottish Asian Women’s Association, the SNP’s women’s officer and a candidate in next year’s European Parliament election. In fact, the list of names is a lot shorter, as these are the combined roles of Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik, who was one of three speakers to address a dinner at the George Hotel.

She was joined on the platform by SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon and businessman Dan MacDonald.

“We women are used to juggling lots of things,” said Tasmina. On Tuesday night she was speaking on the issue of fairness. She is certainly getting her fair share of jobs to do.

Morshead proves to be the punter’s favourite in Perth

Celebrations at Perth Racecourse where general manager Sam Morshead has just hit the 25-year milestone. Morshead is a former jockey who joined the course when it was in a parlous state, and has overseen a total transformation of the business.

When he took up the reins in 1988, annual attendances hovered around 25,000, but this year nearly 60,000 punters have passed through the turnstiles.

He was instrumental in the introduction of the three-day Perth Festival in 1989 and has witnessed a tenfold increase in sponsorship revenue.

The board and staff presented Morshead with a silver salmon sculpture.

Touching tribute as Gill joins the hall of fame

TOUCH Bionics chief technical officer Hugh Gill was in good company on Friday night when he was inducted into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame.

The inventor of the Livingston-based company’s artificial hand – which has even starred in the Scream & Shout music video featuring rapper and singer Britney Spears – was the focus of attention because he was the only living engineer to be inducted at the ceremony.

Radar inventor Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt (1892–1973), construction industry giant Sir William Arrol (1839–1913) and thermodynamics pioneer William John MacQuorn Rankine (1820–72) were the other engineering greats honoured by the Institution of Engineers & Shipbuilders in Scotland

• Contact Erikka Askeland on 0131 620 8586 or e-mail [email protected] or Dominic Jeff on 0131 620 8464 or e-mail [email protected]