The boss who helped to create Trinity Leeds shopping centre to step down

The boss who oversaw the development of the Trinity Leeds shopping centre is stepping down.

The Trinity Leeds shopping centre Picture by Simon Hulme

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Robert Noel, the chief executive of property firm Land Securities will retire next year, the company has said.

Mr Noel, who will have served eight years at the helm by the time of his departure, will continue his role until a successor has been appointed and a handover period completed.

Mr Noel said: “Next year I will have spent 10 years at Landsec, eight as chief executive. With the business well positioned for the current market, a growing pipeline and a clear strategy for the future, it’s the right time for me to move on.”

His time at the company has included overseeing major projects such as the “Walkie Talkie” skyscraper in the City of London and the new Westgate shopping centre in Oxford.

He also played a major role in the development of the Trinity Leeds shopping centre. The £350m scheme, a joint venture between Caddick Developments and Land Securities, opened in 2013.

Analysts at Liberum said he had overseen a “significant transition in the portfolio” by reducing risk.

“While the change will inevitably cause some disruption Landsec remains well placed with an experienced wider management team,” they said.

The board is set to start a formal search for a successor, with the aim of Mr Noel leaving the company some time in 2020.

Chairman Cressida Hogg said: “Under his leadership Landsec has developed iconic buildings, especially in Victoria, in the City and at Westgate in Oxford. We respect his decision to retire after nearly

eight years as chief executive and look forward to continuing to work with him until a successor is in place.”

It also follows the end of Mr Noel’s year as president of the British Property Federation (BPF), the trade association for UK residential and commercial real estate companies. He was succeeded by Grainger CEO

Helen Gordon earlier this month.

In an interview with The Yorkshire Post in 2012, Mr Noel said Leeds was “a hugely important centre” and would rank above Manchester as a shopping destination once Trinity Leeds was completed.

Speaking in 2012, Mr Noel, who was born in Burley-in-Wharfedale in West Yorkshire, said: “Consumer patterns are changing very quickly in the UK. They have shifted particularly over the last five to 10 years. What’s happening is we’re moving swiftly to three channels.

“There’s convenience shopping, and repeat shopping, which we’re increasingly doing online, particularly among the male population. Then you’ve got your family shop, which is being done less frequently, but you’re spending a longer time doing it, and you’re taking your kids with you.

“Generally, you require to be fed, watered and entertained. This is why there is an increase in the food and beverage offering.”

“Land Securities took a very brave decision in 2010, ’’ said Mr Noel. “We were the first property company to start major development in the UK.

“The view we took - and we have to take this view because we are a large business dealing with large sizes - is that you have to look through the (economic) cycle.

“One of the things that endears us to Leeds is the fact that we know it well. We’ve invested in the city for 15 years with the very successful White Rose (shopping centre).

“We saw Leeds as a great city which needed the middle sorting out. We felt that the time to start would be exactly the time when no-one else was building, so that retailer focus was on what we’re delivering.”