Fightback: Leeds bucks trend with only shopping centre to open in UK this year

 

Conventional wisdom has it that life on Britain's high streets is tough and getting tougher as household budgets feel the pinch and consumers switch their purchasing power on-line.

But no one seems to have told the city of Leeds where the latest step in its bid to become the shopping capital of the north continued today when the £350m Trinity Leeds opened for business.

Some 83,000 people turned up in the first six hours of trading to create an air of almost feverish excitement.

With 120 shops including Apple, Hollister, Mango and Superdry, a futuristic glass roof, public artworks, a posh cinema and some funky restaurants it will be the only shopping centre to open in the UK this year and the largest to open anywhere in Europe.

According to owners Land Securities 23m people will visit each year. Recession-stalled building work began during the mini recovery of 2010 and 40 per cent of the units were let before the first shovel was wielded. Now nine out of 10 units are taken.

Despite better than expected retail figures last month elsewhere the outlook is gloomy with many chains struggling to stay afloat and fifteen per cent of retail floor space currently lying vacant.

Not so in Leeds Trinity, explained Richard Akers, executive director of Land Securities.

"Leeds needed some new shops. There was demand and we knew it was there and we have been proved right," he said. "People are tending to shop less often but they will travel further and spend more time and more money on each trip.

"If someone lives halfway between Leeds and Manchester they might decide to go to Manchester nine times out of 10. Now we have done the scheme they might decide to go to Leeds nine times out of 10," he added.

But although Leeds is a honeypot for 5.5m people in the region the city is not without its problems.

The casino at the ailing Clarence Dock development recently closed because of lack of footfall whilst Kirkgate Market is a shadow of its former self despite a recent £12m cash injection. Despite this, Leeds is pressing ahead with another even bigger retail development, the £800m Eastgate Quarter due to open in 2016.

Politicians insist they have the right blend of retail, financial and legal services, culture, universities and manufacturing in the city.

"We know what we are doing in Leeds and we want more of the powers to come down to Leeds to take us forward and attract inward investment," said Councillor Judith Blake, deputy leader of the council.

But not everyone was getting carried away.

Michael Baxter, 61, was gazing across the heaving throng with a look of bemusement.

"It's quite impressive. But walk out there and see the shops in the real core of Leeds and we have lost Next, River Island, La Senza. They are all empty. We will need to come back in two years' time and look at it then," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Estimator

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a major supplier of buil...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Engineer with SQL skills

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas