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Easdale brothers unveil plans to turn old Glasgow store into boutique hotel

Brothers Sandy and James Easdale have submitted plans to transform the former Watt Brothers department store building in Glasgow (Jeff Holmes/PA)
Brothers Sandy and James Easdale have submitted plans to transform the former Watt Brothers department store building in Glasgow (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Millionaire brothers Sandy and James Easdale have unveiled plans for a £20 million development of an old Glasgow department store, which they hope to turn into a boutique hotel.

The brothers, the owners of McGills Buses, have submitted plans to Glasgow City Council for the redevelopment of the Watt Brothers store, which they said could be a “stepping stone” towards restoring Glasgow as a “great shopping and leisure centre”.

The former shop, on the corner of Bath Street and Sauchiehall Street, has been empty since Watt Brothers went into administration in 2019.

Now, after reaching a deal with administrators at KPMG, the two brothers hope to turn the art-deco style building into a boutique hotel, complete with luxury residences and a shopping complex.

Architect Douglas McConville of Silverfern Consultancy has drawn up plans for the listed building, which dates back to 1914, aiming to restore and enhance historic features.

Sandy Easdale said: “We wanted a classy design that would maximise the use of the huge site but would not compromise the unique character of the original building.”

He added: “The building benefits from brilliant art deco features and this will play a part in its rejuvenation.”

James Easdale said: “We are also acutely aware of the strategic shortage of hotel room supply in Glasgow and we feel this is a stepping stone on the way to restoring Glasgow to the great shopping and leisure centres like Edinburgh and other great English cities.”

The brothers hope their plans will showcase the possibilities for development within Glasgow to other entrepreneurs.

Sandy Easdale said: “Glasgow may have temporarily lost some of its glamour, but the energy of Glasgow folk remains undiminished and the younger generation both here and in Europe love the vibrancy of the place.”

James Easdale added: “Despite the two-year hiatus of the pandemic, Sandy and I have always taken the view that opportunity can come from adversity.

“We are very optimistic that the economy will bounce back in due course.

“Whilst our transport businesses, which include McGill’s Buses, remain hugely important to us, property and construction investment opportunities in England and Scotland are constantly presenting themselves.