Remembering pioneer mall boss George Ritchie – who grew tomatoes at St Enoch Center
He was the first person to lead Glasgow’s exciting new shopping centre.
Who was George Ritchie?
1 George Ritchie was the first director of Glasgow‘s St Enoch’s Centre, the giant glass-roofed shopping center that caused a stir when it opened in 1989. It was the largest glass structure in Europe and was unlike anything shoppers had seen in the city. In an interview with the Glasgow Times about a year before his death, George said he was so fed up with all the jokes about the center looking like a greenhouse that he decided to grow his own tomatoes. “They’ve been very successful too,” he said.
2 Retail was in George’s blood – his father was the manager of Trerons, one of Glasgow’s oldest department stores. George was planning to join the army after his national service, but he met a young woman called Carmen, which changed his life. The couple married in 1965 and have two sons and three grandchildren.
3 After completing an apprenticeship with cabinetmakers Wylie and Lochead in Buchanan Street, George moved to London to work for luxury department store Harrod’s. “It was an experiment, the boss used to walk around the workshop with his bowler hat,” he told the Glasgow Times.
READ MORE: Glasgow’s top chef sparks Mortons rolls debate – what do you put in yours?
4 After stints at other shopping centres, including Trerons, where he took over as general manager in 1975, until the business merged with RW Forsyth in 1983, George was given the post of general manager of the new St Enoch Center of the city. The official opening ceremony took place in March 1990, with then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher doing the honors.
5 George retired from St Enoch in 1999 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. He was heavily involved in the Retail Trust. George sadly passed away in April 2020.