Radical steps are being taken to attract new retailers to Paisley’s High Street.
Scottish government minister, Stewart Stevenson launched Renfrewshire Council’s initiative – the first of its kind in the UK – aimed at boosting the number of big-name retailers in the town centre.
The council has hired a team of experts to actively market empty shops to the lucrative outlet stores sector.
And empty shopfronts will also be given a makeover, so they are more attractive to potential retailers when they visit the premises.
The move follows the recent success of Paisley High Street’s Marks and Spencer, which became an outlet store and saw a substantial increase in footfall.
Renfrewshire Council has appointed Colliers International – the world’s third largest commercial real estate organisation – to target potential retailers and encourage them to open their outlet stores in Paisley.
Having identified a potential new retailer and sold them the idea of opening up in a particular empty property, Colliers would then pass information about the retailer on to the shop landlord who would conclude the negotiation to sell or lease the empty premises.
New retailers opening in Paisley could also benefit from a support package, which includes grant aid, fast-tracking of regulatory approvals, helping private landlords revise their commercial expectations and the plan to promote Paisley town centre through a series of public events and marketing initiatives.
The council – through its public private partnership organisation, Paisley Vision Board – is also funding the creation of new facades for empty shops, which would encourage retailers to see the potential of these properties.
Renfrewshire Council leader, Derek Mackay said: “This is the first time in the UK an innovative concept like this has been introduced to a traditional High Street.
“We are doing all we can to revitalise Paisley town centre and although retail is only part of what makes a vibrant town centre, it does play an important role in attracting people.
“We are taking this bold and radical step to make sure Paisley is at the forefront of retailers’ minds when they are thinking about where to open new stores and they are fully aware of all the advantages of opening up in our High Street.
“Although we are improving and marketing commercial properties that don’t belong to the council and are in the private sector, everyone in Paisley will benefit from the town’s regeneration.”
Councillor Mackay added: “Studies have shown there is a huge market among consumers for good quality outlet stores and the success of places like McArthur Glen Designer Outlet Stores, in Livingston and, closer to home, our own Marks and Spencer proves this to be the case.
“We hope our double-edged plan of action will inspire and encourage many outlet retailer investors to come to Paisley.
“Shopping patterns have changed over many years and Paisley has to re-invent itself within the retail marketplace to, once again, attract more shoppers to our town centre.
“Who knows, one day soon you might be able to buy an Armani suit, in a Paisley High Street shop – and for a fraction of the price you would normally pay in a fancy city-centre designer store.”
Stewart Stevenson, Scotland’s Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change said: “I'm delighted to visit Paisley to see for myself how the town is looking to the future by targeting leading brands to operate outlet stores in the town centre.
“Paisley is also benefiting from a £1.8 million investment from Town Centre Regeneration Fund.
“Paisley is one of nearly 90 towns across the country which have benefited from this Government's £60 million Town Centre Regeneration Fund.”