Leeds’ Primark closure sparks concern over retail future

Primark, Leeds
Primark, Leeds
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Fears have been raised over the future of retail in a section of the city centre after Primark announced it would close one of its stores.

As reported in the YEP today, the clothing giant revealed plans to shut its large store on The Headrow in March after almost 10 years of trading.

The company said it was consolidating its presence in Leeds by developing its Trinity store and was in talks with staff over transfers to nearby outlets.

The announcement follows similar moves in that part of town by shops including Borders, Burton, Peter Maturi, Dwell and its predecessor Muji.

Ian De-Whytell, owner of Crash Records, which has been a presence on The Headrow for over 20 years, said the closure will add to the ‘Trinity effect’ in pulling shoppers away from the area.

“Trinity is fantastic in what it does but it’s dragged a lot of mainstream shops into one area which has then dragged a lot of customers.

“It has re-directed the flow of customers in Leeds city centre to that area and so this part of town suffers as a consequence - and that will continue with the closure of Primark.

“The worry is if it stands empty for any length of time, so we hope someone will move in pretty quickly. But it’s a very big shop for someone to take on. The problem is that all these big name shops are looking at Trinity and also the Victoria Gate development, when John Lewis moves in.

“It would be nice to see someone like Selfridges to move into that unit but I doubt that would happen.”

But Catherine Shuttleworth, chief executive of Leeds-based shopping and retail marketing agency Savvy, said the news wasn’t all doom and gloom.

“This is another change in the dynamic picture of Leeds city centre but we shouldn’t be too worried. As the Victoria Gate development blossoms out of the rubble of Milgarth, what is emerging is more retail square footage that will connect the market area of the city centre.

“Leeds is a top five retail destination in the UK and retailers and leisure operators are queuing up to open in Leeds - and we still need more activity for the people of Leeds and visitors for shopping and the tourism market to enjoy. “The economic outlook in Leeds is extremely positive as we start 2015 and we just need to make sure the Leeds offer is the most attractive in the UK.”

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