FOUR luxury brands have joined the list of big retail names that have decided to open shops in the £165m Victoria Gate shopping centre in Leeds, which is set to turn the city into one of the top retail destinations in Europe.
Hammerson, the developers behind the scheme, revealed that lifestyle brand Cath Kidston, heritage fashion brand Ghost, menswear brand Diverso and Bailey Nelson, which sells glasses and sunglasses, will all have shops in Victoria Gate, which is due to open on Thursday. For Ghost and Bailey Nelson, the outlets in Victoria Gate will be their first boutiques outside London.
Victoria Gate, which includes a flagship John Lewis store, is bringing jobs and investment to a part of Leeds that had been neglected for years. Developers say it also complements the £350m Trinity Leeds shopping centre, which opened three years ago.
James Hepburn, the development manager for Hammerson, who 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 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.”
He added: “It’s about delivering this scheme and then concentrating on making sure it settles into the city, and then looking forward a little bit, with the phase two scheme that lies just over the road from here.
“Our message to the people of Leeds is, ‘Please come and enjoy it.’
“It really is a beautiful addition to the architectural scene and also the shopping scene. John Lewis is a stunning store and will be a great asset to this city and community.”
James Bailey, the general manager for Victoria Leeds, which includes Victoria Quarter and Victoria Gate, said: “We’re absolutely delighted - to get to 90 per cent let is a real achievement for any new scheme.
“I certainly think we’re competing for that third retail spot outside of London. The beauty of the scheme is the proximity of all these luxury and premium brands..Manchester has many of the brands we have, but over a much vaster geographic spread.
“The overall customer experience will be far superior to anywhere else in the North.”
Mr Bailey said he saw the Victoria Gate and Trinity Leeds schemes complementing each other.
“It’s been great to understand how Victoria Gate will fit into the wider context of the city centre. There’s something for everybody now within the city centre,’’ he added.
The new additions join the premium retailers and restaurants that have already signed up for the scheme, including Le Pain Quotidien, Neom Organics, Hackett, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and international restaurant group D&D.
A spokesman said: “Together with Victoria Quarter, the new Victoria Leeds estate will create an indulgent retail and leisure destination for the North.”