The highly anticipated Victoria Gate opened its doors for the first time yesterday and is having a huge impact on the city already.
Victoria Gate is the second of the Victoria chains to appear in Leeds, the first being Victoria Quarter which has been a central part of the city for many years.
It has created over 1000 new jobs and is hoping to boost Leeds economy significantly.
The all new centre boasts 110,000 m² of shops and restaurants and is also home to the UK’s second biggest John Lewis. Other new shops include Tommy Hilfiger, COS, The White Company and Anthropologie .
So far there has been a considerable amount of attention drawn towards the centre but how is the opening going to effect other retailers in Leeds?
Steve Crocker, a volunteer for Leeds City Ambassadors thinks it will be positive for business: ” I think its about time they built a John Lewis in Leeds it has been 30 years. It will certainly have effect on surrounding areas as well.
Since the market car park was knocked down, three years ago, a lot of business has suffered. The market has certainly suffered with loss of trade. So hopefully now Victoria Gate has opened, it will bring back trade again.”
Kirkgate Market is the largest indoor market in Europe and attracts over 100,00 visitors per week. It is located on Vicar Lane which is directly opposite the new John Lewis and therefore business could be effected.
Alan Parker, who works on the Marks & Spencer stall in Kirkgate market said: “I think eventually it will be good for business but I think the outside market may suffer. The products they sell are not going to be able to compete with the more expensive shops. I think they should bring the outside market inside and turn the outside into another car park. ”
As Victoria Quarter is part of the brand they could benefit from the exposure. Rachel Wilkinson, assistant manager of Azendi thinks it will be great for business: “It is definitely going to be great for Leeds and it has so far brought people to this side of town.
As we are in Victoria Quarter, we are starting to match our opening hours to theirs which is going to be very good for business towards the Christmas period.”
Another retailer located on Vicar Lane is shoe shop Size? and supervisor Joey Stennett has mixed opinions on what effect it may have: “Yesterday it was quiet and it drove business away from our shop rather than towards it. But in the future there will be more foot traffic towards the city centre. It should be good for business.
With Victoria Gate being full of high-end brands, it may not bring the type of customers that usually shop with us but it will bring more people around, even if it is just to browse.”
Manager of Size? Dan Squire has noticed the effects even before the launch date:
Time will tell whether Victoria Gate will have a positive or negative effect on local business and hopefully it will be a huge asset to the city of Leeds.
By Sophie Turner