A major shopping destination is expected to attract over £82.5m of inward investment to Yorkshire during its first 10 years, according to new research.
Victoria Gate in Leeds, which includes the largest John Lewis outside the capital, opened to huge anticipation last October.
Now, the True Value of Retail report released by the centre’s developer and manager, Hammerson, reveals the impact Victoria Gate is having on a socio-economic scale.
The inward investment figure takes into account additional development that is expected to happen in Leeds over the next decade as a direct result of Victoria Gate’s arrival.
The report, by stakeholder research specialist Envoy Partnership in conjunction with property firm JLL and Hammerson, also reveals the impact the £160m shopping centre is already having.
Victoria Gate employs 600 full time equivalent staff with people from the local area employed in 75 per cent of roles. When its sister centre, the Victoria Quarter, is taken into account, there are 1,353 full-time jobs across the two sites.
Retailers have invested £1.4m in training employees and annual wages at the two centres total £27.7m.
Meanwhile, the two destinations generate £8.3m in business rates and pay £3.9m in income tax.
James Bailey, general manager, Victoria Leeds, said: “Visitors often tell us what a great place Leeds is as a shopping destination, so it’s particularly rewarding to see the positive impact that these visitors, and all those employed in Victoria Leeds, are having on the local community.
“Not only in terms of customer experience and satisfaction but also through supporting local jobs, developing skills for the next generation, making communities feel safer and more enjoyable for everyone to spend time in, and generating financial benefits for the local and national economy.”
The research findings are being presented to Hammerson staff, voluntary sector groups, civic leaders, and retail representatives, at an event in Leeds Town Hall tomorrow evening.
The event will discuss the importance of community engagement. Hammerson is keen to emphasise its connection with the local community.
Louise Ellison, head of sustainability for Hammerson, said: “We do a lot of work with the Leeds Community Foundation and other groups. It allows us to make sure that people feel connected with us and the centre.
“Victoria Gate is a beautiful shopping centre but it’s important that people think that it is somewhere they can go and work. Some people might say ‘I wouldn’t be able to get a job there’ but we have a variety of people and jobs. The centre needs thriving communities to make it work.”
While the arrival of Victoria Gate was welcomed by many, it has been criticised by some for being too ‘high end’ and not getting the right mix of tenants.
Ms Ellison said: “John Lewis doesn’t set itself up as an elitist brand, it welcomes everybody. Victoria Gate wasn’t established for a narrow part of the population. I hope people feel welcomed in there.”
One of the big issues Hammerson is tackling is youth unemployment. Half of all jobs in both the Victoria Quarter and Victoria Gate go to under 25s.
Ms Ellison said: “If you have well managed and well run estates where you have continuous commitment and investment from the owner and landlord you can generate a huge amount of benefit and employment.
She added: “The development is complete and running. We are still engaged with local community groups. We have a long term commitment to Leeds.”