Leeds is best in Britain for net retail openings as shop closures fall

The Trinity Leeds development
The Trinity Leeds development
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Leeds has topped a list of 500 town and city centres for net retail openings, as the number of store closures decreases in Yorkshire.

The study of the top 500 town and city centres across Great Britain shows that Leeds had 135 outlets open last year – an increase from the 75 openings in 2012.

But 80 outlets closed – giving Leeds a net increase of 55 shops.

Yorkshire and Humberside had an overall net change of minus eight for the year, with a total of 444 store closures and 436 openings.

The number of closures is down from 461 in 2012.

The research, by Price Waterhouse Coopers and the Local Data Company, comes as Trinity Leeds celebrates its first birthday today.

The £350m shopping centre, which houses 120 brands, has had a staggering 22million visitors since it opened.

Its arrival created 2,270 new jobs and has lead to a rise in visitors to Albion Street, which is now the city’s second busiest street after nearby Briggate.

Randal Casson, head of retail at PwC in Leeds said: “Yorkshire fared well last year when looking at the rest of the UK. The opening of Trinity in Leeds has played a part in this and has been a huge success for the city, boosting consumer confidence and spending.

“Casualties have been in those areas where we have seen a rapid shift online – travel, fashion, digital photography and DVDs, and banks. Those trends will continue.”

Toby Underwood, business recovery partner at PwC Leeds, said: “The trend of net closures for Yorkshire and Humberside in 2013 is encouraging and signals a return in retail confidence.

“The well-documented insolvencies of Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster, together with other solvent restructurings, account for most of the highlighted closures.”

Catherine Shuttleworth, chief executive officer at Leeds-based shopping and retail marketing agency Savvy, said: “In our opinion Trinity has re-established Leeds in the premier league of UK shopping centres.

“Perhaps the key success factor for Trinity is that it works with the rest of city centre rather than competing against it.”

She added: “Concerns about empty stores elsewhere in the city centre have turned out to be largely unfounded – indeed many retailers and property developers are investing to modernise space across the city centre.

“There’s more to look forward to, with work set to start on the Victoria Gate development next month. John Lewis is currently the missing piece in the retail jigsaw for Leeds.

“Trinity Leeds, alongside developments like the First Direct Arena, is a major shot in the arm for the city, establishing Leeds as a major hub for retail, leisure and tourism – not just in Yorkshire, but the whole of the UK.”

Leeds City Council’s executive member for the economy and development, councillor Richard Lewis, said: “In the face of a challenging economic climate, Trinity has helped Leeds to buck the national trend and [...] we’re confident that Leeds will continue to flourish and offer shoppers and visitors more than ever before.”

The Trinity Leeds scheme is currently 97.5 per cent let or in solicitors’ hands.