SIX city businesses will be competing for the title of Favourite Business of the Year award in October.

One of them will win the coveted title, which is sponsored by the Evening Times and is part of the Glasgow Business Awards 2018, which are organised by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.

The awards' main sponsor is Royal Bank of Scotland.

Yesterday we highlighted the first two nominees for the accolade of Glasgow's Favourite Business. Today it's the turn of Princes Square and The Garage.

And tomorrow we'll bring you the final contenders - and let you know how you can cast your vote.

PRINCES Square was nearing the end of a multimillion pound refurbishment when Andrew Foulds walked in and saw it, as if for the first time.

"This was seven years ago, when I had just joined Redevco, who own the Square," says Andrew, the UK Portfolio Director, "I looked at it, if you like, with a professional hat on, and my first impression that it was stunning, just a stunning internal environment."

Princes Square opened its doors 30 years ago this year - Prince Charles performed the official opening on the same day as he and Princess Diana opened the Glasgow Garden Festival - and, despite all the changing tastes and habits in retail, it remains hugely popular, attracting some three million visitors each year.

Its array of retail units, covering fashion, jewellery, beauty, gifts and lifestyle, all complemented by a range of restaurants, bars and cafes, has moved with the times. The latest addition will be a boutique cinema to be opened by the Everyman chain. This will be its first venue in Scotland.

Less than two years ago the Square was voted as "Scotland's favourite building" in a poll that was part of the Royal Incorporation of Architects’ ‘Scotstyle’ competition. RIAS secretary Neil Baxter said at the time: “The ingenuity of the design, embracing the best of the historic square within a well-serviced, contemporary environment, has stood the test of time."

Now the venue is one of six nominees for the title of Glasgow's Favourite Business 2018.

Andrew knows better than most the startling changes in the retail sector over recent years.

"There's been a rapid increase in online sales, for a start," he acknowledges. "In retail terms there's been a movement from a 'need to shop' to more of a need to enjoy shopping. If you're picking a day out with your family or friends you want to enjoy yourself. It's a leisure experience now, and the retail areas that are surviving are those ones that offer a bit of experience.

"In terms of Glasgow, Princes Square has always done that. It's a beautiful building. It won that big award in 2016 in a public vote.

"The venue has also put together a select range of retail names, a great range of tenants in terms of shops and restaurants.

"We're thrilled that the square has been chosen for the first Everyman Cinema in Scotland. That will give the venue another dimension when it opens in mid-October.

"The cinema will offer comfortable seating. You'll be able to watch a film over a glass of wine or a beer. You'll be able to have something to eat there, too.

"It will be a grown-up experience - which, after all, is what Princes Square has always been about."

Andrew added: "I've worked in shopping centres for 20 years and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that your work is never done. You're trying to adapt, to improve, all the time. And that's as true for Princes Square as it is for everywhere else."

Princes Square has often been compared to the Victoria Quarter in Leeds, or to the boutique shopping and dining experience that is the Royal Exchange in London. "In Scottish terms, however," Andrew adds, "I would say that Princes Square is unique."


IN March 1995 the American megastar Prince chose The Garage, in Sauchiehall Street, for a secret, intimate gig following his sold-out show at the SECC.

Earlier this week, the American megastar Bruno Mars chose The Garage for his afterparty following his gig on Glasgow Green.

The two events may be separated by 23 years but both speak to the esteem in which the venue is held by artists.

Among the many names who have played The Garage are Radiohead, The Hold Steady, Fall Out Boy, Yo La Tengo, The Dandy Warhols, Faithless, One Direction, Coldplay, Marilyn Manson and Muse.

Andy Clark, head of marketing at Holdfast Entertainment, which runs The Garage and its sister venue, The Cathouse, said The Garage

was launched by music promoter Donald MacLeod in 1994. He had already had success with the Cathouse rock venue and decided to create a new, late-night club and gig venue aimed at students. The result was The Garage, with its distinctive frontage on Sauchiehall Street.

"It was quite small at that time but still fairly substantial, and it's been added to a lot over the years," adds Andy. "As it got bigger, with queues up and down Garnet Street, it was decided to add more spaces." It now has five rooms, including the original Main Hall, Desperados Bar, G2, the 100-capacity Jack Daniels Attic and Shooter Bar. The music, in addition to the live gigs, covers everything from house music to pop-punk via RnB.

"We've had some amazing acts over the years, as can be seen from the list of names displayed on the walls at the entrance. The biggest act that has ever played here was Prince. He wanted to put on an impromptu show in a small, more intimate place." People who were lucky enough to catch that show still talk about it.

"Our secret at The Garage has been to keep it simple," Andy adds. "It's a place where you can be yourself. 'Dance like no-one's watching' - that's the way I would put it.

"I've been going to the Garage since I was 18. I still feel comfortable there. It's fun - that's a big part of what we do. We've evolved, too. Over the last couple of years we've spent over £200,000 on upgrading our sound and light systems.

"The marketing team is constantly trying to be innovative and to add new things, things that other places haven't done. We were the first venue in Glasgow to stage a Harry Potter party. Every couple of months we'll stage a big visual event - we've got a big screen and will spend more money on getting lights in. We've had a Magical Forest theme, a Planetarium-type theme. During Freshers' Week we'll be putting on The Greatest Showman event, trying to create our own version of the hit film."

But The Garage is more than about music. "We've got live music throughout the whole year but we put on a lot of shows during the Glasgow Comedy Festival. And there's wrestling, once a month."

Ask Andy what is the best thing he's ever seen at The Garage and he recalls, among dozens of gigs, the Hot Dub Time Machine, a party event staged by Australian DJ Tom Loud. "It's just what we're about - a huge party," he says.

The Garage turns 25 next year and a "massive birthday party" is planned, including a full month of activities next February.