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Leeds Trinity Centre boss is in it to win it INTERVIEW

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He’s the man driving one of the city’s most prestigious retail development.

Neil Hudson met director of the Trinity Centre development David Laycock, 48, to ask him about his obsession with Leeds, working 15-hour days, getting away to the east coast and why the new shopping centre is raising eyebrows across Europe.

“The Trinity development is really going to raise eyebrows. In fact, it already is. If you look across the whole of Western Europe, there is nothing like this happening anywhere else, even in the major cities. But it is happening in Leeds.

I remember telling that to a group of businessmen from Germany and they just started applauding.

I am responsible for the commercial success of the scheme. When it opens next year we will be the best of the best in terms of the standards we set. We’ve put a lot of stock by the level of service people can expect.

“My view is, it’s all about attracting people back into the city. We’re going to have things going on in the Trinity Centre which you won’t see anywhere else. There will be street entertainers, we are the only place outside London to have an Everyman cinema, where you can get something to eat as you watch a movie.

It’s like a big jigsaw puzzle right in the heart of Leeds. We will have eight entrances connecting to six streets, so we’re very much about integration. We’re going to get anywhere between 25m and 30m people coming through our doors each year.

“My father was from Leeds and I remember coming here as a child to visit my grandmother and my uncle, I’ve always loved the city and having spent 42 years waiting to come back here, I’m not going to come here and not deliver.

When Trinity opens in 2013 people are going to see a big change in the city because we are going to start taking back business from places like Meadowhall and the Trafford Centre. It’s almost like we’re standing up now and saying, okay, you’ve had your time but now it’s our turn, this is what we do.

I remember going to see my nanna Hetty on Kingswood Gardens, off Street Lane, when I was younger. For me, it was always about Leeds. They say home is where the heart is and that’s true for me and this city. I love everything about Leeds, it was my spiritual home from an early age. I remember my dad taking me to see Leeds United in 1971, they played Southampton and they beat them 7-0. It was all starry-eyed stuff.

“My first job was delivering free papers. I did all kinds of jobs like that, I remember shovelling aggregate at a garden centre when I was 15. Later I worked for C&A in Sheffield, Liverpool, Basildon, Croydon and Brent Cross. I also worked for John Lewis for six years too.

I get up about 4.45am and get into the office by about 6.45am, sometimes I don’t get home until about eight or nine at night.

To relax, at the moment, I just sleep, or take the dog for a walk.

“I am most proud of my family, including my loving wife Sarah and our four children, aged 14 to 18. I first met Sarah in 1991 at a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Gosforth Hall. I’d gone there with my mum and my wife recognised her as her old teacher.

Something that might surprise people is I’m quite spiritual, not in a religious way but looking for the goodness in people. In that sense, I’m a bit of a romantic.

“My philosophy on life is that when you get to that stage where you feel like you can’t go on, if you can push yourself to do that extra mile, then it’s normally the most fruitful. I’m a great believer in the motto ‘while I can, I will’.

I also firmly believe this is the age of the majority, where real people count. In that sense, the social structure has gone from the top to the bottom, it’s now all about the people on the ground, they offer the service and that is going to be crucial to the success of Trinity, which is why we have invested so much in it. We want to make people feel like they are valued.

“Something I couldn’t live without is cheese, I love it, mostly hard cheeses though.

“The best piece of advice I can give you is to say life is about creating opportunities and choosing the best ones.

If I could meet anyone living or dead it would be Don Revie, the legendary Leeds United manager. He had a certain approach in the way he dealt with people, he genuinely cared for his players and also their families and that paid off because people worked with him and that’s how he produced such amazing results. That’s how I try to view Trinity.

I remember meeting the Leeds United players when I was younger, back when footballers were normal. There was Big Jack and Joe Jordan and they would just sit and talk to you.

“The best thing about Leeds is its people and the warmth of welcome you get when you come here. I liken it to going to the theatre. You couldn’t just sit there and watch nothing on stage, it’s people who bring it to life and it’s like that with Leeds.

“The last time I cried was at my uncle’s funeral a couple of months ago in Yeadon. He was my dad’s brother. I was okay until they played My Way at the end. He was a real character.”

 

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