Savoy to get new lease of life

GLASGOW'S Savoy Centre is about to undergo a radical transformation.

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Savoy Centre traders learned their landlord had gone bust on January 15, but January 24 brought better news
Savoy Centre traders learned their landlord had gone bust on January 15, but January 24 brought better news

Bosses at the Sauchiehall Street mall have signed up 95% of tenants to a new tenancy agreement, securing around 200 jobs in the process.

And they now want to give the mall a new lease of life.

It comes after businesses were threatened with closure when the former centre operator, InShops, went into liquidation.

As the Evening Times revealed, the 65 businesses in the centre were told to pack up and leave by January 17.

However, PBN Property Management stepped in to save the indoor market on behalf of Crestbridge Corporate Trustees, the owners of the building.

Over the next few months, retail chiefs will ask traders what they want to see in the Savoy, while trying to secure new businesses to fill the 20 to 24 vacant shop units.

They have vowed to pull in more shoppers, currently around 50,000 people visit every week - and they hope Glaswegians will come out and support the centre.

The first phase is a rebranding, which will involve removing the InShops signs, installing a store directory and erecting new signage.

Brian Kearney, of PBN Property, said: "We are really excited about the future of the centre.

"It is going to be a gradual change - we have a lot of traders who all want different things.

"But over the next 12 to 24 months we will talk to the businesses and put a plan of action in place.

"We have taken this on because we believe in the future of the centre."

As well as encouraging new retailers to move in, the new owners want to approach colleges and universities to encourage start-up businesses to use the space.

They hope to introduce younger people to the centre, as well as holding onto regular customers, most of whom are from the older generation.

A marketing team will also run a campaign to raise awareness of the Savoy.

Staff are confident the new management will bring about positive change.

Centre manager Alan McNab, from north Glasgow, has been at the Savoy for 26 years.

The 54-year-old said: "We are aiming to get the younger generation into the centre.

"Our audience is right there outside our door. There are plenty of people walking by on Sauchiehall Street every day, so we just need to get them inside.

"It has been a difficult time over the past few years but we are ready for a new chapter.

"We want people to know: we're open for business."

Linda McGregor is manager of Andell's Restaurant, which looks out onto Sauchiehall Street from the first floor.

The brightly coloured walls and 1950s music means the cafe is always buzzing.

And Linda is keen to get the message out.

She said: "We have such a good atmosphere - I wish more people knew about us.

"We do gluten-free and lactose intolerant food, we cater for everyone.

"The new management need to get more people in - we are unique.

"We have customers who'll come and sit alone for a coffee and lunch - but it's just because the atmosphere is so nice."

Regular customers Sadie Henderson, Jean Donnelly and Ann Sharp said they wouldn't go anywhere else.

Sadie, 70, from Maryhill, said: "We've been coming here for years - it's good prices and there's plenty of shops."

Angela Jain, owner of Beauty and Tanning Connection, has been a tenant in the mall for 17 years.

She said: "I'd like to see some improvements to the exterior and interior.

"This part of Sauchiehall Street shouldn't be seen as downmarket - we have M&S here, we have New Look.

"The Savoy should add to that."

Gerry Lee has been running Savoy Podiatry for 17 years. He wants to see diversity in traders, reasonable rents for incoming businesses and good marketing.

He said: "I am confident that the new management will turn things around.

"They have been really honest and open so far.

"They've already brought down the rent for us.

"It won't happen overnight but I'm confident about the Savoy's future."

rachel.loxton@eveningtimes.co.uk

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