Retailers flock to get close to new John Lewis Leeds store

Artist impression shows John Lewis at the Victoria Gate development.
Artist impression shows John Lewis at the Victoria Gate development.
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The £150m Victoria Gate development in Leeds is already 40 per cent let ahead of its opening next autumn as stores rush to grab a space next to one of the biggest John Lewis stores outside London.

The scheme is being billed as the latest piece in the jigsaw of the complete regeneration of Leeds city centre.

Property developer Hammerson said the 34,300 square metre scheme, which is adjacent to Victoria Quarter, will consist of a flagship John Lewis store, a two-street arcade with more than 30 aspirational retailers and restaurants and an 800-space multi-storey car park.

Hammerson said leasing progress is encouraging, with 40 per cent of the retail income let or in solicitors’ hands.

Construction work for the first phase started last April following the purchase of Victoria Quarter in 2012.

Following hot on the heels of the success of the £350m Trinity Leeds shopping centre, the scheme is expected ​to create up to 1,000 construction and 1,000 retail and hospitality jobs.

​​The new ​anchor ​John Lewis will be ​one of ​the partnership’s largest store outside of London at 255,000 to 260,000 sq ft.

​Hammerson said Victoria Gate will be very different to Trinity Leeds, which appeals to a young fashion and mass market audience.

In contrast Hammerson’s scheme will be pitched at a higher demographic and is aiming for a similar experience to South Molton Street in London, the upmarket pedestrianised street south of Bond Street in the heart of London’s West End.

​Hammerson said that John Lewis will bring in shoppers who don’t currently shop in Leeds in what is widely known in retail terms as “the John Lewis effect” as the store is so popular with shoppers.

Hammerson has already signed up some upmarket retailers for the arcade, but the names will not be announced for another few weeks.

The group is also asking existing retailers in the Victoria Quarter, which include Ted Baker, Vivienne Westwood, Karen Millen, French Connection, Diesel, Space NK, Hobbs, All Saints, Jigsaw and the first Harvey Nichols store outside London, if they would like to move to bigger premises at Victoria Gate.