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Trinity Leeds takes centre stage

Published:  30 April, 2013

Trinity Leeds, the biggest shopping centre to open in the UK this year, welcomed the public for the first time on 21 March

The 1m-sq ft centre, which sprawls out over three floors around a vast airy atrium, represents a £350m investment from Land Securities and unites three of the city’s busiest shopping streets – Briggate, Commercial Street and Albion Street.

Leeds is the third largest city in the UK with a population expected to grow from 750,000 to 840,000 in the next 10 years. Many of the UK’s big retailers have firm roots in Yorkshire and particularly in Leeds – Marks & Spencer was established in the city in the 1880s and it’s been known as the ‘Knightsbridge of the North’ since Harvey Nichols opened a store there in 1996. But there was a sense the retail element had fallen behind.

“Leeds is a city of ordinary people who have been forced to shop elsewhere – before many would drive down the M62 to the Trafford Centre or even get a train to London because they haven’t been able to get what they wanted,” explained Catherine Shuttleworth, local retail expert and CEO of Savvy Marketing.  

Trinity Leeds has changed all that. The shopping centre boasts over 120 shops, restaurants, cafes and bars, bringing a host of national and international brands together under a domed glass roof. Forty-six of the stores are new to the city with Apple, Hollister, Mango and Superdry among the names debuting in Leeds together with new flagship stores from brands including Marks & Spencer, Next, River Island and Topshop.

“Leeds was hugely underserviced in terms of retail. Briggate is the second busiest shopping street in the UK but retailers haven’t been able to get the units they needed,” said Shuttleworth. “There was a sense of restlessness, Next has moved three times within Leeds in the last 10 years, but Trinity Leeds has given retailers the contemporary space they required.”  

“Leeds has always punched above its weight but it didn’t have the amount and quality of space for retailers to maximise opportunities,” added Gerald Jennings, Land Securities’ retail portfolio director – North. “Trinity Leeds has provided successful retailers with the right space and location.”

Trinity Leeds plays host to a number of new-to-the-city restaurants and bars, including two Conran-designed rooftop restaurants from D&D London – the first outside the capital – independent tapas bar Cielo Blanco and chains including Wagamama, Nandos and YO! Sushi.  

There were a handful of stores yet to open on opening day including US lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret and a three-storey Primark – its second in the city. And the centre’s street food concept, Trinity Kitchen, a late addition to the planning and build process, will open its doors in the Autumn, increasing the centre’s F&B offering by 50 per cent.

The venue launched itself into the spotlight with an opening event curated by British fashion designer Henry Holland, involving ‘the world’s largest designer dress’ worn by aerial acrobat and former Cirque Du Soleil principal artist, Colette Morrow.

“To get to this point and to see it open, it’s stupendous,” said Jennings, who has been working on the scheme for eight years. “Trinity Leeds has reconnected parts of Leeds and opened up vistas and sight lines – the city has a new heart. We’ve continued with the project through increasing uncertainty and that’s an indication of our confidence as an investor in Leeds.

“We’ve delivered a magnificent re-birth in the city centre and I feel great pride in what we’ve achieved. For the people of Leeds this is something special and it will help the city set itself firmly within the UK mindset.”