Willow Tea Rooms teams up with SCVO to create Rennie Mackintosh visitor centre


SCVO and Willow Tea Rooms Trust buy 20,000 sq ft space “to restore it to its former glory”

THE Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall St in Glasgow is set to expand with a new Charles Rennie Mackintosh visitor centre and a retail outlet in a new deal with a third-sector organisation.

The Willow Tearooms Trust, owner of the iconic Willow’s Tea Rooms, and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), an umbrella group for third sector organisations, have jointly bought up over 20,000 sq ft of retail and office space next to the Willow Tea Rooms.

Celia Sinclair, Founder of The Willow Tea Rooms Trust, said: “When we bought the existing Willow Tea Rooms last year in order to upgrade it and restore it to its former glory, we already knew that to fulfil our vision, and for practicalities such as installing lift access, we would require additional space. We were interested in the adjoining buildings and coming on the market when they did couldn’t have arrived at a better time.

“With SCVO’s help we have a great opportunity to create something truly special and sustainable in Sauchiehall St that will celebrate and safeguard Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s legacy.”

The deal will allow the Willow Tearooms to create the Rennie Mackintosh visitor centre while SCVA will gain space for an office hub which can be used by other charities.

Alastair Davis, chief executive of Social Investment Scotland, who part funded the acquisition with another social investment bank, Unity Trust Bank, said: “As well as supporting the restoration of the Willow Tea Rooms, this investment will help create jobs, support tourism, and open up the world of Scottish artistry and architecture to a wider social demographic.”

The SCVO intends to use space in the building to provide workspace to charitable and third-sector organisations.

John Ferguson, director of development and Programmes of the SCVO, said: “We are really proud to have been involved in saving this iconic piece of Glasgow’s heritage and to see it in the hands of a charitable trust which will preserve it for the people of Glasgow and visitors from across the world to enjoy.

“SCVO also plans to create a charitable business centre within the building which will help charities and community groups in the city to work together to make an even bigger difference to the lives of people in Glasgow.”

SCVO say the deal will help boost tourism and regeneration in Glasgow.

Picture courtesy of Holly Hayes