Posts Tagged ‘Cabot Circus’

Cabot Crunch

October 3, 2008

Just one week after the Post greeted the opening of Carboot Circus with the most ridiculous and uncritical hype they are today reporting the first closure of one of the luxury stores as the economic crisis begins to bite the retail sector.

A luxury clothes shop which opened its doors at Bristol’s new Cabot Circus shopping centre just a week ago is set to close within days.

Hardy Amies, the upmarket tailor which once made dresses for the Queen, was yesterday appointing administrators to seek a new owner after running into financial difficulties.

It opened a new store – its sixth in the UK – in Quakers Friars last week, which employs six staff. Its ranges for men include ties at £55 each, and jeans which cost £145 a pair.

The company had to suspend trading in its shares a week ago, on the day after its Cabot Circus store opened. In a statement, the company said it had since been approached by various parties interested in helping solve its funding difficulties but had been “unable to finalise an offer that would secure the future of the company.”

Perhaps the Post will live to regret last week’s moment of madness, devoting so much space to praising the cathedral of consumerism at a time when many Bristolians face serious economic hardship.

Maybe they will come to regret comments like this from September 25th,

It’s remarkable how a development like Cabot Circus can still provoke the ‘glass half empty’ mentality in some people.

Read discussions on the internet, scan our letters pages, in fact any public forum discussing Bristol issues, and there will be small numbers of very vocal people telling us all why CabotCircus won’t work and why we shouldn’t shop at Harvey Nichols.
There’s a simple answer to these people – don’t go.
For the rest of us, Cabot Circus is a fantastic opportunity, a symbol of economic growth at a time when the country is in financial turmoil.

The people who have a decent employment future and good job prospects will hardly be thinking the new centre is a bad idea. Why put a dent in their aspirations?

Some of the upmarket stores may be beyond the reach of many people, but they bring a glamour which the city has never had. If that fails, just chuckle and accept them – it’s not your money.

Or, perhaps they will just continue uncritically regurgitating corporate PR, pushing manufactured hype and refusing to join the dots. At crisis times like these the ruling class come to rely ever more heavily on their corporate media machine to promote their sinking system, and the Post is doing a pretty good job of that right now.

Bread and circuses . . .

Invested interests

October 1, 2008

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More great news about Carboot Circus from the Post today: it’s “WOW”, again.

This time the adulation comes courtesy of the Property Matters column (left) on the Post’s business page. So, we get,

“This moment will be remembered . . . ‘WOW’ what a world-class shopping centre the Bristol Alliance have built for us . . . architectural masterpiece, on time and on budget . . . strong sense of pride . . . fantastic selection of stores . . . John Cabot set sail from the city and discovered Newfoundland, but there is no need for Bristolians to leave the city now. We have it all right here.”

We have to admit that in the past we have tended to skip the Post’s business coverage assuming it to be little more than regurgitated press releases from the Post’s corporate chums. And, well it seems we were right.

Who is this Post columnist with such praise for Carboot Circus and the Bristol Alliance? He’s Chris Thomas, a Partner with the Bristol based commercial property consultants Hartnell Taylor Cook. They also happen to be consultants and agents to Carboot Circus/Bristol Alliance.

Here’s a bit more from Chris Thomas from the Post on August 16 2006 in a column headlined “Support City Centre Stores”,

The Broadmead expansion is progressing at a dramatic pace in front of our eyes and there is a huge “feel good” factor associated with Bristol, this landmark development and the exciting tenants already committed to it. .
However, it is vitally important to support the existing retailers in this time of transition.

On a macro scale it is good to see Marks & Spencer has improved its trading performance. The Broadmead store is undergoing a refurbishment which, once completed, will provide an exciting and attractive store. Other retailers also bucking the trend and continuing to expand include Primark, New Look and Arcadia.
Primark, which acquired the Littlewoods stores nationally last year, continues to trade excellently. In 2008, when House of Fraser relocates to its new store, Primark, which purchased the building last year, will open a new 150,000 sq ft flagship store for the region.

It is not all doom and gloom in the centre, there is still considerable retail activity, as illustrated in The Mall Galleries, where several new lettings are due to be announced in the next 10 days.
It is an exciting time for Bristol from a retail perspective but in this time of transition and difficult trading conditions while the new centre is under construction, I urge you to support Broadmead, The Mall Galleries and the city centre.

So, why is Chris promoting Carboot Circus’s competitors, the Galleries, Primark and M&S? Oh yeah, because they are all clients of Hartnell Taylor Cook as well.

Proper journalism, right?

And, for good measure Hartnell Taylor Cook were winners of the ‘retail agency’ category of the inaugural Evening Post Commercial Property Awards in 2006. And John Taylor of Hartnell Taylor Cook won the lifetime achievement award in the same awards last year.

And because this wouldn’t be a Bristol business-media-property web otherwise; the former senior partner of Hartnell’s, St John Hartnell, was, of course, a Merchant Venturer.

What a mucky business.

Media Circus

September 28, 2008

Had enough of Cabot Circus yet (or Carboot Circus as it’s apparently now known)? Us too (See everywhere passim ad nauseum). Unfortunately we’ve restricted our own agenda somewhat at Evening Post Watch. We are kind of guided by the agenda at the Post, and their agenda is most definitely Cabot Circus.

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So, you would think that after literally years of recycling the same old corporate PR puff about the coming of this glorious New Jerusalem, the Post would relish the chance to report an actual, real, near-tragic news story about the shopping centre they have been promoting and advertising continuously for months on end. Oh, hang on . . .

On Friday, the day after we were treated to the “WOW!” front page and eleven more pages about Cabot blah blah blah . . . a seven month old baby was rushed to hospital after a window fell out of the new Harvey Nichols building and landed on the baby’s pushchair injuring him and his mother. They are now both OK.

The Post reported the story on page five of Saturday’s edition. Well, it’s hardly front page news, is it? But, was that WOW! story front page news? Or the aliens? Or the ghosts? To be honest, we really don’t have a fucking clue how the Post decides on “news worthiness”. News values? Yeah, right.

Reading the story though, we were struck with a feeling of déjà vu. Surely we have read somewhere before about falling windows at this development. But there was no mention of it in the story. Surely, if this had happened before, that’s a pattern, right? The Post would mention it, even if only to tell us they had investigated and ruled out a connection, right?

So, where had we read about falling windows before? Oh yeah, the Evening Post.

Here, from April 18 2008, a story headlined, “I am so lucky to be alive – josie”.

A Bristol office worker says she is lucky to be alive after a 15ft pane of glass fell from the Cabot Circus tower block and crashed to the ground only metres away from her.
Josie Cooke was walking to work in the city centre when a window pane “the size of a bus stop” fell from the 14-storey apartment block in the new Cabot Circus development . . .
Ms Cooke, 49, from Knowle, said there is no doubt she would have been killed if the window had landed on her. The incident is being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive . . .
She said: “I was so lucky. I got off the bus by NatWest and walked to the site entrance. The workmen asked me to stop so the fork lift truck could reverse, and the window just came down in front of me.
“If I hadn’t stopped it would have fallen on top of me. I would say it was about 15ft by 5ft, the size of a bus stop. It was my lucky day. It would have killed me.”
The 14-storey tower, one of the tallest buildings in Bristol, has been built over what will be a three-storey Harvey Nichols store . . .

And then on May 2 2008; “Cabot circus tower task is such a pane”.

“Dozens of window panes have been removed from Cabot Circus ‘ landmark tower as work continues to replace hundreds of panels of metal cladding on the building.
Two weeks ago, it was revealed that workmen on the luxury apartment block were removing the silver-coloured aluminium and zinc cladding after it was discovered the fixings were not up to scratch.
It then emerged that a 15ft pane of glass had fallen from the building a month before, narrowly missing an office worker walking past – an incident which is under investigation by the Health and Safety Executive.
Now the windows on the building have also been taken out as the tower is stripped back to its inner concrete structure.
The 14-storey tower, one of the tallest buildings in Bristol, has been built over what will be a three-storey Harvey Nichols store . . .”

Perhaps we are being unfair and the Post have investigated and ruled out any possible connection between sub-standard fittings, windows being removed  and replaced, rushed completion and falling panes of glass. But if so, why not tell us? Or perhaps we are just being too cynical.

 

UPDATE 1: The Telegraph made this comment in its report of the incident,

“Although Cabot Circus staged its grand opening on Thursday only 100 of its projected 140 stores were completed in time.

It has been suggested the incident may have happened as a result of builders rushing work in order to finish on schedule.”

 

UPDATE 2: Just stumbled upon this interesting comment on a construction/architecture forum discussion about Carboot Circus from June:

“Just something you might want to be aware of, in Derby we recently had a major shopping centre development (Westfield Derby) open ala Cabot Circus and with a short time to go it didn’t look like it was going to be finished in time. Westfield then got contractors working 24/7 for around 3-4 months and got it finished in time…..however this meant that things were rushed and consequently most of the flooring has had to be replaced just 8 months after it opened and there have been various other problems with painting not being finished and glass roof panels falling into the shopping centre!!. I just hope that the same thing doesn’t happen at Cabot Circus as judging by those photos there’s a hell of a lot of work left to do in a relatively short space of time. “

(That’s enough Carboot Circus – Ed)

WOW?

September 26, 2008

Wow indeed. After a week of fucking insane Cabot Circus wank from the Post they finally ejaculated today’s edition complete with orgasmic WOW! headline and “how was it for you?” sub-head; followed by 11 more pages about the shopping centre.

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After drudging through those twelve pages of corporate PR and consumerist hype we were beginning for fear for our collective sanity. Then we stumbled upon today’s Post editorial and realised that it is definitely not us with “issues”.

A fortnight of Post front pages dedicated to a shopping centre, a Queen musical, aliens and ghosts? We are beginning to get the impression that all is not well in the editor’s office. After reading today’s Comment on, you guessed it, Cabot Circus, we sense a little defensiveness, maybe delusions? Somebody help these folk back to reality:

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“Never before has the opening of a shopping complex been so eagerly awaited, so widely anticipated and so universally welcomed . . . And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not superficial or shallow to be proud of a development . . . Our spirits have been lifted, our horizons broadened . . . Of course there have been cynics, doubters and critics who sneered and carped . . .”

Well, at least they have finally acknowledged that we cynics exist.

For more perfectly sane and healthy cynicism, doubting, criticism, sneering and carping, check Bristol Indymedia’s alternative Cabot Circus coverage. We’re off shopping . . .

Joined up journalism

September 24, 2008

From yesterday’s Evening Post (Tuesday September 23):

EP - Harv Nicks copy

So, the love affair with our new shopping centre Cabot Circus continues ahead of Wednesday and Thursday’s openings; no surprise there. And whilst ordinary Bristolians face rising food prices, pay cuts, huge fuel bills, house repossessions and job loses, the Post uses another front page to promote a shop for the rich. But don’t worry, the Post has managed to secure EXCLUSIVE “sneak preview” pictures. It really is “luxury for all” isn’t it?

EP - Harv Nicks 2 Inside, amongst the four pages devoted to “Cabot Circus” reporter Niamh Byrne gives us a tour of Harvey Nicks which reads like a corporate press release.

Finally we are introduced to three happy Cabot Circus workers. First of all Andrew Jenkins a 22 year old graduate who is apparently happy to be flogging shirts in Top Man. Sheila Biddle who is impressed that the company she now works for sells “ethical furniture”. Well, I wonder how ethical they are when it comes to workers’ rights, trade union recognition and decent pay. Good luck, Sheila. Finally we meet Nicky Mcleod, a security guard. He tells the Post that he was made redundant by the CEED employment charity around the corner in St Pauls when their funding was cut. Obviously the Post misses the irony.

We are told that there are 4000 jobs being created by Cabot Circus and how this is bucking the national trend for job cuts. But we are not told how many jobs will be cut as trade is lost from other shopping districts. We are also not told how many ofEP - Harv Nicks 3 these new jobs are just being transferred from branches closing in other parts of the city.

And what kinds of jobs are these? Retail, catering, security, cleaning; some of the lowest paid, least secure jobs going. Minimum wage McJobs. Is this the best our kids, our graduates, our unemployed can expect? Don’t expect the Post to ask.

On page 9 of the same edition, the latest in the Post’s “The Big Squeeze” series of articles which could be entitled “Economic Crisis for Kidz”.

Reporter Niamh Byrne, having finished her guided tour of Harvey Nicks, has nipped over to St Pauls (a poor inner-city area on the edge of the Cabot Circus development) to produce a story headlined “Shops suffering as credit crunch bites”. Are they taking the piss?

EP - Squeeze st ps

Update: Three excellent posts by the Bristol Blogger on Cabot Circus and the media.

Bread and Cabot Circuses

September 18, 2008

Chris Hutt at Green Bristol Blog has just posted on our new monument to consumerism, Cabot Circus, and the unfortunate timing of this months’ opening coinciding with the latest round of economic crisis.

He also notes the Evening Post’s apparently insatiable pant-wetting excitement about this ugly new shopping centre. They’ve even been running a readers’ competition this week for a chance to win a VIP tour of the place! Get a fucking grip, people; It’s a shopping centre.

There is something obscene about the rich wankers that are responsible for imposing this monstrosity on us, cheered on by their mates and lackeys in the council and the media, orgasming at the thought of all the money they hope to make. Meanwhile, as the economic crisis bites, the city is in the grip of a hidden housing crisis with 20,000 people on the council housing list and fuck knows how many in overcrowded or sub-standard housing.

The media are just either unable or unwilling to join the dots and ask the questions.

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