THE ARRIVAL of John Lewis in Leeds next year will help the city move up the league of shopping destinations, the department store group’s managing director said last night, writes Bernard Ginns.
In an interview with The Yorkshire Post, Andy Street said: “I don’t think Leeds punches its full weight in terms of retail rankings yet. Your retail offer is not as good as it could be for a city of this stature. What John Lewis will do will help Leeds cement itself as a regional shopping destination of distinction.”
He added: “The evidence from other cities around the country is that when we invest in a place others follow us so the total retail cake follows. And that can only be good for Leeds as a regional capital city.”
The employee-owned group is due to open a £37m store in Leeds next autumn and Mr Street was in the city last night to speak at an event hosted by the Leeds Community Foundation.
He said John Lewis is a blue chip company that understands its community obligations. Last night, the group presented a £125,000 cheque to the foundation from a fundraising golf day. Mr Street added: “I’m not saying it’s all about money but that is a damn good starter.”
He said the Northern Powerhouse is “brilliant PR”. Mr Street added: “The city of Leeds was already on a good growth trajectory well before the Northern Powerhouse was invented so I do not believe Leeds needs the Northern Powerhouse for its economic fortunes in the future. You have a good diverse economy that has weathered the recession better than some other cities and you have a very prosperous future.”