AS it celebrates its 25th anniversary, the future is looking good for the St Enoch Centre.

GORDON THOMSON spoke to general manager Anne Ledgerwood about the challenges ahead

THE future is bright for St Enoch Centre as it celebrates 25 years of serving Style Mile shoppers in Glasgow.

A number of traders are involved in talks about opening shops in one of Glasgow's most popular retail malls, which attracts millions of customers every year.

And mall bosses are under starter's orders to cash in on this year's Commonwealth Games.

Thousands of athletes will be jetting in to the city in July and will perform in front of a million spectators at venues across the city that month and into August.

Anne Ledgerwood, the 42-year-old general manager of St Enoch, is determined the giant glass pyramid will be one of the must-see attractions for visitors not just during the summer but in the years ahead.

The mother-of-two said: "With the Games taking place in just eight weeks, we are determined to play a leading role in showcasing the city as a top tourist and retail destination.

"Last year we joined a host of other city centre traders to extend our opening hours to 7pm on weekdays.

"During the Games we will have even later trading to ensure visitors get a chance to enjoy the full city centre experience after spending an exciting day at the Games.

"We are well advanced in our preparations for the Games.

"Many of our staff have taken part in the Glasgow Welcomes training programme, which is designed to enable hospitality, leisure and tourism staff to deliver the best possible visitor experience.

"We will also be running workshops with our staff to provide them with information about Glasgow's top attractions and facts and figures on Games events, venues and dates.

"We are still finalising our summer activity programme so we are not able to reveal too much at this stage, but we are aiming to build on the legacy of the Games with events that will celebrate Glasgow's rich cultural heritage."

Looking further ahead is providing difficulties for Ms Ledgerwood.

She said: "We are so busy now that it is difficult to contemplate the next 25 years, but our immediate focus will continue to be on providing a high quality fashion and family experience.

"I am delighted Mothercare chose to open its new flagship city centre store within St Enoch Centre.

"Between its Myleene Klass and Jools Oliver collections, and the Hamleys and Disney stores I am confident we have a family offering that cannot be beaten.

"With leading High Street chains including Debenhams, Superdry and Fossil, as well as independent boutiques such as Xile, we already have a strong fashion offering.

"But we want to appeal more to the next generation so we are examining ideas that will attract younger fashion fans.

"Events have always been very important to us and they will continue to be an important means of improving customer experience.

"When Union J recently appeared at Hamleys to sign their new range of dolls we had hundreds of extra visitors from all over Scotland.

"The buzz in the centre was fantastic so we are keen to maintain the momentum and the great vibe.

"I am really proud of what St Enoch Centre has achieved over the last 25 years. It is so much more than a shopping centre, it is a community.

"From our It's My Greener Glasgow art and design competition with secondary schools to our long-running sponsorship of the Scotswoman Of The Year awards, and our charity partnerships there is more to us than shops."

The mall is clearly a firm favourite with the people of Glasgow.

Shopper Maggie Stokes said: "When my children were very young we visited the ice rink, but the centre has come on leaps and bounds since then. There is something for everyone."

Another shopper, Jennifer Sinclair, agreed. She said: "When I was younger, I would go to the food court and meet friends. It is a lot nicer and more swish these days."

David Hart said there was only one reason why he was dragged there by his young boy. He said: "We come to St Enoch Centre because my son loves Hamleys."

Richard Beaton lives in Cumbernauld, but is another regular visitor to the centre.

He said: "I feel comfortable here and I like the variety of shops."

Ruth Buchan-Wyber said: "I like the shops and atmosphere. There is a sense of community at St. Enoch Centre."

Brian Timms likes the variety. He said: "I come to St Enoch for a coffee and the shops. I am not crazy about shopping centres but I like it here because it's open and airy - my grandchildren also like it."

Sheila Brown is happy to drive from her home in North Berwick to st Enoch.

She said: "One of the things I remember most about shopping at St Enoch Centre when it first opened was the car park.

"It made visiting the city centre much easier because there was no need to take public transport any more. The centre has always been good but it has improved a lot over the years."

Ms Ledgerwood is working hard to maintain the public's affection for St Enoch and confirmed several new traders could be about to move in.

She said: "Longer term, there is strong interest in leases within the centre, showing that Glasgow remains an attractive prospect for traders."


Chris has got success down to a tea

TRADER Chris Kimble has seen his business grow since opening in St Enoch Centre.

Kimble's Cafe, Deli and Chocolate Shop has become a firm favourite with shoppers who pop in for afternoon tea or the traditional cucumber sandwich.

Mr Kimble said: "When we opened 11 years ago, we sold chocolates from a 150sq ft unit with a tiny counter that required just one member of staff.

"I think it is fair to say we have been one of the centre's biggest success stories - we now have a 4000 sq ft cafe, deli and shop and employ 32 people.

"We have been in our current location, in the extension, for about 3½ years. Most of our customers are regulars and many came to us through word of mouth.

"We are still serving people who came to us when we were a tiny chocolate counter 11 years ago. But new customers are discovering us all the time.

"We've enjoyed strong support from St Enoch Centre's management over the years. As an independent business, we do not have access to the marketing back-up that some of the other big retailers enjoy, so we really appreciate the centre's efforts to promote us. They are always including us in events and featuring us online or in their social media.

"One of our biggest sellers is our afternoon tea, which we introduced a few years ago. It is so busy we have a daily booking system.

"We do advertise our afternoon teas but I think there are probably a lot of shoppers who don't realise that amidst the hustle and bustle they can enjoy cucumber sandwiches, scones, pastries and a genteel pot of Earl Grey."