Media Release: Refurbishment by building contractors, Skinners, commended at prestigious retail awards

AN Ayrshire firm of building contractors has ended the year on a triumphant note after receiving recognition for work carried out at an Aberdeen shopping centre.

At the recent British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) Gold Awards, the Scottish Retail Property Limited Partnership (a joint venture between Land Securities and British Land) achieved a commendation for the £2 million refurbishment to Aberdeen’s St Nicholas Centre – work which was carried out by building contractors William Skinner & Son, based at St Quivox in Ayr.

The commendation was awarded in the Best In-Town Retail Scheme (under 300,000 sq ft) category.

The exclusive gold awards are leading accolades within the shopping centre and retail destination industry.

They reward excellence in retail-led developments and recognise projects that generate improvements in the quality of the built environment. The awards also recognise stores and operations within that environment.

The St Nicholas Centre and its sister centre, the Bon Accord, form the established prime shopping location for the City of Aberdeen.

The St Nicholas Centre is a busy covered shopping centre leading from Aberdeen’s main street (Union Street) to the Bon Accord Centre.

The St Nicholas Centre has circa 13 million footfall per annum which equates to an average weekly footfall of 260,000. It contains 25 shop units within approx 100,000 sq ft.

Construction began in 1983 with the centre’s doors opening 1985.

Twenty years after the centre opening, it was decided that the centre would benefit from a refurbishment to give it a fresh and modern new look to complement its array of vibrant fashion retailers.

The project comprised of the refurbishment of the shopping mall common areas (805 square metres), (8665 square feet.), including the renewal of floor surfaces, pilaster finishes, ceiling finishes, lighting features, upgrading the sprinkler system, replacing entrance screens and doors, installing new entrance signage/canopies and mechanical & electrical upgrades.

The concept for the refresh scheme is taken from geological formations and the use of light to create a space that is inviting, fresh and contemporary; encouraging shoppers to increase their dwell time within the centre. Customers are enticed into the centre from Union Street via a crisp clean back-lit white box with ‘st nicholas’ simply applied in a sophisticated and understated manner in a black font (matched with new branding guidelines). The theme of light continues internally with a double ribbon of light which flows down the length of the mall eventually terminating at an external white light box at the Schoolhill entrance.

The ‘ribbon of light’ and ‘light boxes’ are conceived as highly crafted pure elements linking all aspects of design both externally and internally in a holistic approach.

A waved timber ceiling brings warmth and texture to the central focus space. The undulation elegantly conceals the structure whilst also allowing to maximise floor to ceiling heights and the horizontal slats visually slows down the space with the richness of the timber complementing the white simplicity of the Barrisol ribbons.

The flooring uses various textures and sizes of sand colour ceramic tiles which move away from the rigorous geometric patterns that dominate many shopping centres. The mall is punctuated by geologically inspired extrusions of pilasters. These elements are clad in thin strips of ceramic tile that give the impression of the build up of geological layers. The pilasters are lit with blue accent lighting to emphasise these features.

Simple clean lines with a restricted palette of materials and contemporary detailing are used throughout the refresh designs to give the customer a sense of design quality and creating a calm, relaxed and aspirational retail experience.

The final cost of the refurbishment works cost approx. £2 million. The works were completed on time and on budget.

The refurbishment on the mall has improved the centre’s economic sustainability, making the centre an attractive proposition for tenants in Aberdeen’s increasingly competitive market.

The Skinners team worked hard to ensure that there was minimum disruption to the normal smooth running of the Centre during the time that the refurbishment works were underway.

William Skinner & Son managing director, Sandy Cunningham, said: “Retail refurbishment has always been one of our company’s traditional core specialisations, and we are proud to add the St Nicholas Centre in Aberdeen to our portfolio of successfully completed projects and to have our work recognised by the British Council of Shopping Centres.”

Katherine Armstead, portfolio manager for Land Securities in Scotland, commented: “We are delighted our St Nicholas Centre refurbishment was recognised at this prestigious event. We are dedicated to improving the shopping environments of our properties for retailers and customers, and industry awards such as these acknowledge the investment and continued progress we make in creating centres fit for the 21st century and beyond.”

Land Securities is one of the UK’s leading real estate investment trusts. Its Scottish portfolio comprises four retail parks and four shopping centres including:
* The Centre shopping centre and extensive retail warehousing developments in Livingston
* Livingston Designer Outlet (joint ownership with Morley)
* Bon Accord and St Nicholas Centres in Aberdeen (joint ownership with British Land)
* Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow (a joint venture with Henderson Global Investors)
* Kingsway West retail park in Dundee

In March 2004, Land Securities entered into a joint venture with British Land to create the Scottish Retail Property Limited Partnership which now includes its joint Aberdeen holdings.

Contact William Skinner & Son:

Sandy Cunningham
Managing Director
William Skinner & Son
Cunningham House
St Quivox
Ayr KA6 5HQ
Ayrshire, Scotland

Tel: 0845 051 9060
Fax: 01292 671133

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