Edinburgh celebrates opening of transformative £1bn St James Quarter


St James Quarter, the most significant transformation Edinburgh has seen in a generation – opened phase one today, with the launch of its 850,000sq ft shopping galleria.

The completion of the first phase of the 1.7m sq ft scheme, developed by Nuveen Real Estate, creates a new retail-led, lifestyle district that fully integrates and enhances Edinburgh’s city centre – providing an inspiring, attractive, and vibrant destination.

The £1bn development’s hospitality and residential elements are set to complete in further phases through to 2022. When fully complete, St James Quarter will be a destination like no other – bringing brands from global to local, and convenience to luxury. It features a shopping galleria with 80 retailers, an enticing mix of restaurants, a Bonnie & Wild food hall, Scotland’s first W Edinburgh Hotel, a boutique Everyman Cinema, a Roomzzz Aparthotel, residential apartments and 1600 car parking spaces.

Over 40 retailers welcomed the public through their doors on opening morning, many of which are debuting their brand in Scotland for the first time, including, & Other Stories, Stradivarius, Bershka, and Pull&Bear. H&M, Mango, Next – including its Victoria Secret offering, Rituals Tommy Hilfiger, Peloton, Salerno, Nordic Outdoor and many more also welcomed their first visitors to their new stores. As part of the development plans, John Lewis opened their newly renovated store in May, boasting a range of new services and experiences.

St James Quarter will also host several new concept stores including Zara, and Superdrug who have added a showcase Skinnydip stand for lifestyle and fashion accessories along with a Beauty Studio area for professional beauty treatments. Meanwhile Breitling opened its first standalone boutique in Edinburgh, and The Body Shop will open their first Activist Workshop store in Scotland. LEGO has unveiled to shoppers a bespoke Edinburgh themed LEGO mosaic, while IOLLA will be introducing a new experiential showroom with an interactive try on garden.

A number of brands will continue to join the line-up in the coming weeks including Bross Bagels, The Kooples and Aeronautica, the Scottish food hall by Bonnie & Wild will open next month and H beauty will open its doors to shoppers in the Autumn.

Having overcome the many logistical challenges due to the pandemic, the development is now on track to assume its role as a game changing new heart for the city of Edinburgh in what is a significant and timely boost for the city as it steps up its recovery. With its prime location in the heart of the city, St James Quarter is set to become a welcoming, cultural and lifestyle hub for art, culture and fashion. Through long-term partnerships with Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh Jazz & Blues and the Edinburgh Science Festivals, the opening is set to complement the city’s world-renowned cultural offering and support its vibrant events calendar. 

When complete, in addition to the new shopping hub, St James Quarter will include:

  • A 244-bedroom W Edinburgh. The first in Scotland, the glamorous hotel will include a W Lounge, a SUSHISAMBA restaurant, a W Sound Suite, FIT® – the ultimate workout facility – and an AWAY® Spa.
  • 152 New Eidyn apartments from Native Land. As well as stunning views from their ‘gardens in the sky’, the new homes will include a shared garden room and unparalleled residents’ services including full concierge service.
  • A 75-room Roomzzz Aparthotel. Complementing the scheme’s W Edinburgh, Roomzzz is providing stylish apartments with the personal touch for adventure, business and celebration. Guests can stay for one night, a week and up to a year.
  • A boutique Everyman Cinema. Debuting its first Edinburgh city cinema at the St James Quarter, the cinema will feature five screens and indulgent sofa seating.
  • A truly diverse dining experience with an enticing mix of restaurants. From fast food, fresh food, to family and restaurant dining, the St James Quarter boasts the first Bonnie & Wild Scottish food hall, Five Guys, @pizza and Scotland’s first The Alchemist.
  • Nine event spaces. An enviable events programme has been created across a range of new and attractive public spaces. Set to host a diverse range of pop-up fashion and music shows, the St James Quarter will link to the city’s rich cultural offering and events calendar.
  • A car park with 1,600 covered car parking spaces, which will supply the city centre with just over half of all available covered car parking. The car park will feature parent & child bays, mobility impaired bays, electric car parking bays and cycle racks. Clear signage and good lighting will ensure the St James Quarter car park represents best-in-class design in Scotland.

Martin Perry, director of development for St James Quarter, commented: “This is a momentous occasion for the city of Edinburgh – and this is just the beginning. The brands and experience that we have welcomed today demonstrate our commitment to delivering a curated destination for the people of Edinburgh. We are now looking forward to continuing on our journey to deliver a truly mixed-use destination of the future as we welcome more brands, leisure, and our new neighbours.

“The impact of the pandemic has of course had a profound impact on UK retail. However, retail required a rethink long before the pandemic. The high street was already changing, which is why we have been continually working with our partners, retailers, and the city as whole to ensure that the St James Quarter continues to be enjoyed by generations to come.

“A new normal demands a new kind of retail destination, a development that can respond to an ever-changing situation, one that serves the needs of its community as well as overseas visitors. It is the reason we are focusing on creating a unique experience for our customers. There is something for everyone – which is why our occupiers are still focused on the long-term journey at St James Quarter.

“We believe in Edinburgh and we are excited to help lead the way as part of the city’s wider economic recovery. Throughout this pandemic we have never questioned our investment in not just the St James Quarter but the city itself. We’re here to stay and we’re here to help.”

St James Quarter is a 1.7 million sq ft city centre development in Edinburgh, on a World Heritage site. The £1 billion scheme started on site in October 2016, having achieved planning in 2009. Post development of the St James Quarter, the city is forecast to achieve a £2.5 billion consumer market potential.

Once complete, St James Quarter will help move Edinburgh further up the UK retail rankings from 13th to eighth through the quality and breadth of its offer.