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Leeds tops list of town centres as Trinity celebrates 1st birthday

PIC: James Hardisty

PIC: James Hardisty

Leeds beats 500 town centres for the highest net retail openings as Trinity Leeds celebrates its first birthday. Juliette Bains reports.

Leeds has topped a list of 500 town centres across Great Britain for the highest net number of shop openings – beating Wembley, West London and Liverpool.

A total of 135 outlets opened in Leeds last year – an increase from the 75 openings in 2012.

The news comes as Trinity Leeds celebrates its first birthday today.

The £350m shopping centre, which houses 120 brands, has had a staggering 22million visitors since it opened.

Its arrival created 2,270 new jobs and has lead to a rise in visitors to Albion Street, which is now the city’s second busiest street after nearby Briggate.

The recent study by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) showed that 80 outlets had closed in Leeds during 2013 – giving Leeds a net increase of 55 shops.

It bucks the regional trend, which saw Yorkshire and Humberside have an overall net change of minus eight for the year, with a total of 444 store closures and 436 openings.

The number of closures is down from 461 in 2012.

Randal Casson, head of retail at PwC in Leeds said: “Yorkshire fared well last year when looking at the rest of the UK. The opening of Trinity in Leeds has played a part in this and has been a huge success for the city, boosting consumer confidence and spending.

“Casualties have been in those areas where we have seen a rapid shift online – travel, fashion, digital photography and DVDs, and banks. Those trends will continue.”

Toby Underwood, business recovery partner at PwC Leeds, said: “The trend of net closures for Yorkshire and Humberside in 2013 is encouraging and signals a return in retail confidence.

“The well-documented insolvencies of Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster, together with other solvent restructurings, account for most of the highlighted closures.”

Catherine Shuttleworth, chief executive officer at Leeds-based shopping and retail marketing agency Savvy, said: “As Leeds celebrates the first birthday of the Trinity Centre, it’s worth taking a moment to commemorate the impact the centre has made on the city.

“In our opinion Trinity has re-established Leeds in the premier league of UK shopping centres.

“Perhaps the key success factor for Trinity is that it works with the rest of city centre rather than competing against it.”

She added: “Concerns about empty stores elsewhere in the city centre have turned out to be largely unfounded – indeed many retailers and property developers are investing to modernise space across the city centre.

“There’s more to look forward to, with work set to start on the Victoria Gate development next month.

“John Lewis is currently the missing piece in the retail jigsaw for Leeds.

“Trinity, alongside other developments like the First Direct Arena, is a major shot in the arm for the city, establishing Leeds as a major hub for retail, leisure and tourism – not just in Yorkshire, but the whole of the UK.”

Trinity Leeds is currently 97.5 per cent let or in solicitors’ hands , and the average dwell time and spend for shoppers was found to be significantly higher than the average for in-town shopping centres, according to ACI’s Shopper Dimensions Report.

Leeds City Council’s executive member for the economy and development, councillor Richard Lewis, said: “In the face of a challenging economic climate, Trinity has helped Leeds to buck the national trend and... we’re confident that Leeds will continue to flourish and offer shoppers and visitors more than ever before.”

Gerald Jennings, portfolio director for Land Securities, which owns the scheme, said: “We have welcomed over 22million customers and contributed to an overall uplift in traffic and footfall to the city of Leeds by creating an extra 400 hours of shopping, leisure and entertainment every year.”

To celebrate its birthday today, Trinity Leeds is offering free cake and free parking for lucky visitors, as well as an evening of street food and entertainment at Trinity Kitchen. For details, visit www.trinityleeds.com.

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