IT was a powerful endorsement that came at the perfect time.
Four luxury brands have announced they will open shops in the £165m Victoria Gate shopping centre in Leeds, which is due to welcome its first visitors on Thursday.
The lifestyle brand Cath Kidston, heritage fashion brand Ghost, menswear brand Diverso and Bailey Nelson, which sells glasses and sunglasses, will join iconic brands like John Lewis inside the shopping centre, which is reviving the city’s historic retail centre. It is also expected to complement the success of the £350m Trinity Leeds scheme, which opened three years ago. For Ghost and Bailey Nelson, the outlets in Victoria Gate will be their first boutiques outside London.
James Hepburn, the development manager for Hammerson, which is responsible for the Victoria Gate scheme, said: “We really are announcing Leeds as the premium retail destination in the North of England. The catchment is far and wide, and there won’t be anywhere that really competes with this style of retail offer.
“But, most importantly, we are pushing the opening hours of Briggate and the Victoria Gate quarter and Trinity to later night shopping. You are going to see a real knock-on effect to the restaurant scene and leisure scene within the city.”
When asked if he thought that Victoria Gate would help Leeds to overtake Manchester as a shopping destination, Mr Hepburn said: “It will be very close cut. There’s one thing for sure; Manchester does not have any product like this. Or like Trinity. Over half a billion pounds has been invested into this city, into purely retail, in the last five years.
“We are about 90 per cent let on opening, which is exactly where we wanted to be. It gives us some flexibility to work with the space post-opening, and see where the real demands lie for other retail tenants to come in.
“We’ve created just over 1,000 construction jobs, and we believe we will be creating another 1,000 in terms of retail.”