Within the space of three years Leeds has seen the shopping experience in the city dramatically improve, both in its size and the new brands that have been attracted to come here.
With Trinity opening in 2013 and today, a year on from the opening of Victoria Gate, we now have a city that can boast two international award-winning shopping centres.
Observing other UK cities that have received an injection of new retail investment, which for some has come in the form of a ‘retail box’ in the centre of their city, the challenge has often been the destruction of the high street leaving a trail of vacant units behind them.
This is not the case in Leeds.
All credit to planners and developers in Leeds; it has been carefully considered, architecturally crafted and retail space curated very well, turning the city from a ‘Championship’ position in retail terms to a place where we can confidently boast a ‘Premiership’ retail experience.
With the addition of new car parks and park and ride services, this all adds up to an improved experience for all those who come to Leeds.
But we can’t stand still and nor can we be complacent. This is where the Business Improvement District (LeedsBID) works to support all businesses, whether large or small, chain or independent.
LeedsBID realises it has a role to play in setting the stage for a great retail experience.
Firstly, working with all retailers to actively promote the city through the Top 12 Retail group; secondly bringing new events to the city, big and small, from the MOBO Awards and ARIAS to Eat Leeds restaurant week.
A varied events programme is essential in reflecting the vibrancy of the city and giving Leeds a competitive point of difference. And finally, our role in ensuring that all those who come to enjoy Leeds are given a warm welcome by both the Welcome Ambassadors and newly deployed Evening Ambassadors.
It is only by working collaboratively we can ensure Leeds retains that premiership retail position.
Andrew Cooper is the Chief Executive of LeedsBID (Business Improvement District).