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Inverness city centre shopping development Union Court announces first retail tenant

By Rachel Smart

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Prickly Thistle is set to take up the first unit at the retail development.
Prickly Thistle is set to take up the first unit at the retail development.

The first commercial tenant for a major city centre redevelopment project has been announced, nine months after building work was completed.

Prickly Thistle, a womenswear brand from the Black Isle, will be anchor retail tenant for Union Court, the former home of the Arnott’s department store in Union Street.

The firm has signed a lease to take on one of the six new commercial units within Union Court, and is set to open before Christmas.

Stuart Pender, of Union Court developer Swilken Estates, said: “We are delighted to welcome such a high-profile brand as the first tenant for Union Court.

Stuart Pender Executive Chairman. Picture: Callum Mackay..
Stuart Pender Executive Chairman. Picture: Callum Mackay..

“We believe we have created a high-quality retail development in Inverness, reflected by the ability to attract an internationally-known brand like Prickly Thistle.

“With restored stone façade, original shopfronts and an interior level of finish that raises the bar for retail space in the location, we are looking forward to welcoming further tenants to Union Court in 2024.”

An artist's impression of the shop.
An artist's impression of the shop.

Prickly Thistle founder Clare Campbell said: “We are delighted to open our first permanent UK store here in the Highlands and bring our artisanal sustainable women’s clothing from local makers to the city.

“We have been searching for a location for our first store for some time and we thought, like Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz – ‘There’s no place like home’.

“We’re really excited to launch our flagship store in Union Court, which is a beautiful building of historic importance to the city.”

Prickly Thistle is Scotland’s first and only B Corp Certified textiles mill and clothing manufacturer, a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.

Ms Campbell added: “We are confident our cool, ethically and Highlands-made fabric and clothes will appeal to locals and tourists alike. We are also really excited to join fellow B Corp brands in the city centre, such as the Black Isle Brewery.”

Clare Campbell of Prickly Thistle...Picture: Callum Mackay..
Clare Campbell of Prickly Thistle...Picture: Callum Mackay..

News of Prickly Thistle’s imminent arrival has been welcomed by Inverness City Centre Business Improvement District director Lorraine Bremner McBride who said: “We are delighted that Prickly Thistle are joining our city centre business community.

“We wish them every success and very much look forward to working with them going forward.”

Councillor Ian Brown, city leader, was also delighted.

“It’s fantastic to see a store going into Union Court and something new into Inverness,” he said.

“The fact that it’s a local company is wonderful and it makes Inverness a unique local place to shop.”

The Union Court development saw listed buildings in Union Street and Baron Taylor’s Street sympathetically restored, providing 31 one- and two-bedroom flats for social rent via Highland Council and 22 for mid-market rent via not-for-profit development company HHA, as well as a range of ground floor retail spaces promoted as ideal for café, retail and office purposes.

With five retail units still available John MacBean a partner at Graham + Sibbald, is inviting expressions of interest.

“We look forward to discussing this exciting opportunity to join Prickly Thistle with potential occupiers from the retail and hospitality sphere,” he said.

“Union Court’s exquisitely presented self-contained units are suitable for a variety of uses – with permission granted for Class 1 (Retail), Class 2 (Financial & Professional Services) and Class 3 (Sale of food or drink for consumption on the premises) – and occupy a prominent site in Inverness’s bustling city centre, just off the soon to be redeveloped Academy Street.”

Prickly Thistle founder Ckare Campbell.
Prickly Thistle founder Ckare Campbell.

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