This week The Trinity Centre celebrated its fifth birthday.
Aside from five years of brands and big business, it signifies a major shift in the city’s retail status on a national and international scale.
Attracting 120m visitors since 2013 and bringing 68 new brands to the city, from Apple to Victoria’s Secret, it now also puts £150m through the Leeds economy every year - repaying the £400m it cost to build the centre in the first place.
The only shopping centre of its magnitude to open in Europe that year, it was hailed as an urban regeneration development, tucked between the Grade I listed Holy Trinity Church which dates back to 1772 and Commercial and Albion Street. These now feature within the top ten busiest streets in the UK.
Dan Wharton, marketing manager at Trinity Leeds, said: “There’s no denying that we’ve played a huge part in bringing Leeds up the retail rankings. Since launching just five years ago, Trinity Leeds has welcomed 120m visitors, with many people flocking here from across the UK and further afield.
“The staggering number of shoppers supporting the centre is phenomenal and proves there was – and still is – an appetite for a leading retail and leisure destination like this.”
Leeds now sits at third in the UK’s retail rankings. While it would be remiss to say that is all down to the Trinity, industry experts concur that it paved the way for the retail boom the city is now experiencing.
The White Rose Shopping Centre on the outskirts of the city centre had opened in 1997 and The Merrion Centre had been trading long before that - having opened its doors in 1964. In recent years they have also reacted to the rise of retail.
Last year White Rose announced a £6m flagship Next store and expansion of the food and drink offering with six new restaurants, including Wagamama, TGI Fridays, Pizza Hut and Chiquito and an 11 screen Cineworld cinema. Trusted high street brand River Island is going to be the basis for the next scheme.
Nikki Appleton, marketing manager at White Rose Shopping Centre, said: “It’s a celebratory month for retail in Leeds as White Rose turns 21 on Sunday and we are looking forward to opening our exciting new River Island development very soon.
“It’s all great news for Leeds shoppers. Whether you’re in the city centre at Trinity or in South Leeds at White Rose, there’s so much to choose from and enjoy.”
The Merrion Centre recorded an increase of more than 60,000 extra visitors in the first half of 2017 compared to 2016 and saw the opening of Marco Pierre White’s New York Italian restaurant and an ibis Styles Hotel.
With retail now sitting alongside the leisure industry, as people tend to flock to Leeds for a cocktail of shopping, food and a night out, that was a movement helped by Trinity with later opening hours and places to go after the shops shut. There are around 40 places to eat and drink - not counting Trinity Kitchen, which has a rotating menu of pop-up street food traders.
Mr Wharton added: “Nowadays people in Leeds want more than just a trip to the shops – they want an experience, whether it’s a sweet surprise like our super-sized fifth birthday cake or a taste of street food at Trinity Kitchen.”
Then there is the most recent addition to the shopping front with the hugely anticipated Victoria Gate development which opened in October 2016. It brought John Lewis to Leeds for the first time as well as the country’s third ‘supercasino’ and two rooftop restaurants. Many other luxury brands chose Leeds for their first stores outside of the capital such as Ghost and NEOM.
Mark Goldstone, head of business representation and policy at the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce said: “It is probably not too dramatic to say that the opening of Trinity Leeds was a game changing moment in the recent development of Leeds city centre, acting as it did as a catalyst for further investment and providing a huge boost in business and investor confidence.
“The arrival of Trinity Leeds has been one of the key components in bridging the dead zone between the daytime and night time economies; by blending the retail offering with the early evening leisure offering Trinity Leeds has created more opportunities for people to extend their day a little longer. In the digital age retail has had to reinvent itself, with a huge focus on ‘experience’, being one of the ways the sector competes with online. Create places where people want to be and part of the battle is won.”