Liz Coggins finds out what’s in store for Leeds at the opening of the new Trinity Centre
Its official! Leeds is now a leader in Europe’s shopping stakes!
To those of my mother’s age it always was. And even to me as a small child its department stores such as Schofields, Matthias Robinson’s and Marshall and Snelgrove – where ladies were dropped off to shop by their chauffeurs – were the Harrods of the North.
Leeds had everything. We even had a Biba and Bus Stop – the only ones outside London. And then slump – until the retail economy bounced back and the retail scene in Leeds once again became a force to be reckoned with.
But this morning with the opening of Trinity Leeds the city has added a magnificent jewel to its retail and leisure crown and once again become a force to be reckoned with as far as retail therapy goes.
The new centre boasts over 120 shops, restaurants, cafes and bars, bringing a host of national and international brands together under its impressive domed roof and joins three of the busiest shopping areas of Leeds together – Briggate, Commercial Street and Albion Street.
According to Robert Noel CEO of Land Securities “It’s being a number of years of hard graft”.
“Despite economic uncertainty, major shifts in retailing habits and a challenging city centre site Land Securities have built Trinity Centre on time, on budget and nearly fully let”, he added.
Proudly cutting the ribbon this morning was Leeds City Council Leader Hugh Wakefield who made it very clear how proud he was of his city and to open “the biggest shopping centre opened in Europe this year and the only major one in the UK this year”
“The £350 million invested in building this centre right in the heart of the city will boost other shops and restaurants. The future of Leeds has received a massive boost. Leeds is now one of the best places to live, work and shop”.
But the opening of the centre has also given a boost to the job market according to Alison Niven, Retail Operations Director. “We have created 2,600 retail jobs spanning a wide range of roles from managerial jobs to sales and housekeeping jobs”
One of the young people, who the opening of the centre has given the opportunity for full time work, is 18 year old Rebecca from Halton.
“This is my first real full time job and its going to make a great deal of difference to my life”!, says the 18 year old who has just started her job as front of house and customer services staff. “This new development has given me a real chance to get my career started”, said Rebecca.
But it’s the breath of new life in the form of restaurants and shops that attracted a large gathering of shoppers to wait in freezing conditions for its doors to open.
Kelsey and Abbey both 17 from Bramley had been waiting since 7pm to see the shops. “In particular we want to see all the new fashion labels that are new to Leeds but it’s the opening of Victoria’s Secrets later on that we are really, really excited about”.
Whilst Sam from Kirkstall had waited since around 8.00am to go to the new Apple Shop “This is going to make a big difference to me as normally I would have to go to Sheffield. It’s great to have it on my doorstep”.
Getting up at the crack of dawn to join the long queue in Briggate was Janet who at 60 admitted “I am really excited to see the actual building as well as visiting the LEGO shop with my son. I think Trinity Leeds Centre will become a really good meeting place for people.”
“Leeds had some fabulous shops in the 50’s but we lost them all”, recalls Jane. “You had to go to Manchester to find special things especially when Schofields went – everyone loved Schofields. Perhaps Trinity will become what Schofields was to my generation”.
Trinity has brought some “firsts” to Leeds including two Conran designed rooftop restaurants from D&D London, the first outside London which overlook and Leeds skyline. There is also the first and biggest Everyman cinema in Britain opening in April.
But it was Made In Chelsea star Jamie Laing who attracted the crowds before he even opened his fashionable confectionary range at Candy Kittens, a pop up candy shop featuring the new Spring and Summer range of sweets, fashion apparel and first ever Easter egg with a take on Eton Mess.
“I chose Leeds for the first ever pop up shop because I really love the city as its here I went to University ” he recalls
And could there be a finer recommendation for shopping in Leeds than this.