ACROSS: HOW HAS THE CITY DEVELOPED OVER THE LAST 30 YEARS?
FRANK McAVEETY: Glasgow has transformed into a thriving, global city. Driven by milestones such as the Garden Festival, the UK City of Architecture and Design, and Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, the city has benefitted from significant infrastructure investment and enjoyed a cultural renaissance. Our economy and business sectors are flourishing. Glasgow’s International Financial Services District (IFSD) is celebrating its 15th anniversary and the city’s world-class reputation for business and investment continues to grow.
There have been a number of significant developments in the retail sector, too. The opening of the Buchanan Galleries and the launch of Glasgow’s Style Mile have rejuvenated Glasgow’s retail offer, as has the development of major out-of-town shopping centers such as Silverburn and the Fort. We’re immensely proud to have secured Glasgow’s £1.3 billion City Deal—the first in Scotland and the largest in the UK. This program of work will have a hugely positive impact on our retail offer and further transform the city region over the next 20 years.
ACROSS: PLEASE INFORM US ABOUT THE CURRENT SITUATION OF THE CITY’S RETAIL REAL ESTATE MARKET?
McAVEETY: The city is a “shopaholic’s paradise” according to Lonely Planet and CACI ranks it the number 1 UK retail destination outside of London’s West End. Glasgow is home to over half a million square meters of retail space, with prime and super-prime shopping to be had within one square mile in the city center, known as the Style Mile. The Style Mile contains many unique independent designer and flagship stores of British and international retailers and is also home to an abundance of luxury outlets.
Buchanan Street, Glasgow’s premier shopping street, is the busiest high street in the UK after London, with 6,600 people passing through every hour. The area surrounding Buchanan Street and Argyle Street in Glasgow has been confirmed as the most desired retail pitch in Scotland. An active investment market offers average yields of 4.5% and spaces command prime retail rents of £280 per sq ft per year (as of March 2016). Glasgow’s retail sector generates more than £3.3 billion and supports 17,000 full-time jobs. Out-of-town shopping is also booming with Glasgow Fort, the UK’s leading retail park destination (Javelin Group, Venuescore 2015-16).
Glasgow’s prime pitch is growing in demand and the city has recently welcomed the global brands Massimo Dutti, Michael Kors, Kiko, and a Paul Smith pop-up shop. The city’s independent retail sector is vibrant and continues to be nurtured through a variety of initiatives, including the recent inaugural shopping festival. Our restaurant and bar scene is thriving and we are fast becoming a foodie destination of choice.
ACROSS: WHAT ARE GLASGOW’S PLANS FOR FURTHER DEVELOPMENT AND WHAT ROLE IS THERE FOR RETAIL?
McAVEETY: Glasgow is a world-class shopping destination, much like New York or Milan, and we are actively engaged in attracting a number of global brands. Initiatives such as our Style Mile Shopping Festival promote the city’s retail offer and shine a spotlight on Glasgow’s style. Our City Center Strategy protects and progresses our retail offer. We are actively responding to the various ways in which the industry is restructuring due to the growth in online/mobile shopping.
Further development is planned around the Glasgow City Region City Deal, which will deliver public-realm and space-making improvements of £115 million in the city center. These improvements will ultimately enhance the overall retail and leisure experience of both those residing in and visiting Glasgow. Short-stay visitors help drive retail; in 2014 Glasgow attracted 2.87 million international and domestic tourists generating £687 million for the local economy.
ACROSS: WHAT MAKES IT ATTRACTIVE FOR COMPANIES TO INVEST IN GLASGOW?
McAVEETY: Top companies choose Glasgow for many reasons; because of the quality and loyalty of the flexible and qualified workforce, the cosmopolitan feel of a large city, and great access and one of the most sophisticated and competitive telecommunications environments in Europe. We have excellent transport links – the city is served by three international airports with direct flights from over 135 destinations. Once you arrive, getting about is easy by road and rail. In terms of retail, Glasgow has competitively-priced, world-class leisure and retail spaces to suit every type and size of business and exciting development opportunities, too.
Our Glasgow Welcomes: Service Excellence program is aimed at frontline, supervisory and managerial staff and ensures a skilled workforce that can deliver a high level of service excellence. Investors can also benefit from the Business Premises Renovation Allowance (BPRA) which provides 100% tax relief on the conversion or refurbishment of empty business premises in designated areas. We offer comprehensive business support and guidance through Invest Glasgow, providing one point of contact to all businesses, property investors, and developers seeking to invest in our city. All of this contributes to why we were recently named one of Europe’s top ten cities for business friendliness and human resources and fDi Magazine’s runner up as the “Top Large European City for Business Friendliness.”