A GLASGOW shopping centre which specialises in designer brands has said it will re-open in a strong position after becoming one of few in Scotland to avoid any permanent store closures during the pandemic lockdown.

Princes Square, one of the city’s oldest retail centres, will welcome customers through its doors on Monday, along with others across the country – although there will be a staggered re-opening of its restaurants.

The centre, which opened Scotland’s first Vivienne Westwood outlet and has been open for more than 30 years, is also bucking the trend by adding two new retailers in the coming weeks, including a well known luxury homewear brand.

The retail sector has been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, with lockdown claiming the high-street stores of fashion retailers including Oasis, 
Warehouse and Cath Kidston, while Debenhams is restructuring in an insolvency process.

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Katie Moody, marketing manager for Princes Square, said: “We’ve been very lucky, we haven’t had any casualties – or none that we know of yet  –  because obviously there have been quite a few on the high street.

“We’re bringing in a couple of new names and in the case of one, it will be their first Scottish store, which again is brilliant for us because most of the stores in here were Scottish firsts including Vivienne Westwood, Kate Space and Ted Baker.

“We don’t know what to expect on Monday, we look out and see that Buchanan Street is busy, it looks quite bustling and we have also had people at the gates trying to get in which is a really good sign.

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“Princes Square is so iconic in Glasgow and I think it has definitely been missed. People don't just come here to shop. They come for breakfast and lunch and to enjoy people watching.

“We will have a bit of a staggered opening in terms of the restaurants. So in the case of Zizzi’s and Pizza Express they are opening up the restaurants down south and seeing how it works, then rolling it out up here.”

Like other centres, Princes Square has put a number of Covid-19 safety measures in place to protect customers and staff – but Katie believes stores will face challenges enforcing a new requirement for shoppers to wear masks.

She said: “The guards will be asking people when they come in to wear a mask but if they say they can’t, for health reasons, we just have to take their word for it 

"All staff will be wearing either a mask or a visor. We have three entrances at the front of the centre but will only be  using two, with an exit at the back so there are no pinch points and it’s very easy for customers to flow around the centre.”

One of the centre’s newest tenants, luxury candle, fragrance and gift brand Essence of Harris, said it had survived by switching all production to hand sanitiser.

James McGowan, managing director, said: “Once lockdown was implemented I reached out to other businesses on the island and sourced the materials to make hand sanitiser.

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“That allowed us to stay alive. We are back now in production making candles. 

“Two of our shops have closed down unfortunately in Aberdeen and Edinburgh airports but that’s down to the drop in passenger 
footfall.”