She faces tough decisions as the boss of one of Glasgow’s most popular shopping malls and chairwoman of the City Centre Retail Association. But St Enoch Centre manager Anne Ledgerwood says one of the most rewarding highlights of her role is honouring Scotland’s inspiring women.
Anne, who lives in Ayrshire, has been a huge part of the Evening Times Scotswoman of the Year, affectionately known as SWOTY, since she took over as centre manager last year.
Anne said she was “in awe” of the women who have been involved past and present.
She said: “SWOTY’s something we’ve been involved with now for a number of years, and I’ve got to say I never fail to be inspired by it. I’m always in awe of the women. I come away from the night inspired by it – it’s a real sisterhood.”
Anne said many of the St Enoch shoppers have an “affinity with the women”.
She said: “We love the idea that we have the gallery unit within the centre. People always want to see what’s going on, they want to see the winners and the past winners.
“To know how loyal they are to that event is fantastic.”
Earlier this year Anne took over as chairwoman of the City Centre Retail Association, which has more than 200 members throughout Glasgow’s shopping district.
They scored a major achievement a year ago when they implemented late night opening until 7pm on week nights.
Anne said: “Glasgow is a buzzing retail city. It’s got some fantastic retailers, we’ve got really big brand high street names and we have niche stores.
“In the last 12 months we’ve done the late trading initiative. We’ve got more than 200 retailers open until 7pm.
“That wasn’t a pilot scheme, and that’s here to stay. The push behind that was European cities feel like they’re open for business, but in Glasgow there was a feeling that it closed.”
Anne says footfall is up and late night opening has been a success – but there’s more work to be done.
She said: “We’ve got a tourist influx, conference delegates. And when the city was closing at six there was a gap between the retail and night time.
“We very much wanted to bridge that gap.
“Now you go out onto Buchanan Street and Argyle Street, you start to see the buzz, you start to see people waiting longer.
“You see people shopping after work, then they might go for food or to the cinema. They’re elongating their trip.”
Anne said they now want to make sure the 7pm project is “a success for everyone involved” before considering an even later opening.
She added: “It’s quite a culture change.
“Having the critical mass of retailers on board means there’s a single message. If we can consolidate that and make that a real success it would be great to see if we could extend the openings.
“What we’re concentrating on now is bringing retailers on board.”
The Commonwealth Games were also a major focus of the retail group.
Anne said it was the “biggest tactical project we had”.
She said: “With all of the live zones and activity in the city, from the retail community’s point of view we wanted to get behind that to show Glasgow was open for business.
“Specifically for the Games, a number of retailers got together and opened until 8pm.”
Anne believes store bosses need to work together, not in competition, to achieve results.
She said: “Retail’s changing, the way people shop is changing.
“We’ve come off the back of a major recession, and internet shopping has changed the face of retail. Everyone is looking at ways of making shopping more interesting.
IT’S not really down to one individual business to shape the future on its own.
“Glasgow is recognised as the number one retail destination outside London. So we want to see how we can keep that.
“The idea is to pull that collective voice together.
“It’s things like: What can the city centre do that gives it a unique selling point?”
The answer to that, Anne believes, is to give customers a full experience.
Events like the Games and the Great Scottish Run show that shopping and other activities go hand in hand.
Anne said: “Retailers used to have a fear of these big events, like it was taking custom away. But we’ve realised that’s not the case.
“We’re working with different partner organisations to look at how events can work with retail.
“I think the Games showed us all a different vision of how a city centre could work.
“The city was busy, it was thriving, and people travelled all around the city, for example with the cycling scheme.
“We know that we’re not going to get a Commonwealth Games every year but I think there are lessons we can learn from it.”
Anne says the role of the retail group will be to get a “single voice together” to contribute to important discussions.
The council is currently undertaking a City Centre Transport Strategy, which will inevitably affect retail bosses.
Anne said: “We hope to get involved in shaping that. There are lots of spaces, there are a lot of routes in. Let’s promote Glasgow as being an accessible city, rather than a prohibitive city.”