Trinity Leeds has attracted four million visitors since the £350m scheme opened eight weeks ago, exceeding the shopping centre’s expectations.
Parent company Land Securities said the centre’s new restaurants and the first Everyman Cinema outside the South East have also helped to extend the night-time economy of Leeds.
Figures released by Leeds City Council showed that footfall over the crucial Easter holiday period increased, despite the unseasonal weather, with the city recording its busiest Easter weekend ever.
The council said shoppers flocked to the city centre following the opening of Trinity Leeds. It said that the total footfall for Briggate over the Easter weekend was 900,000, the highest it has ever been.
The footfall cameras, which record automatically, 24 hours a day, showed an increase in the number of people in the city in the early evening, a trend which the council expects to increase as the summer arrives.
Gerald Jennings, Land Securities’ portfolio director for the North, said the centre’s opening day attracted more than 130,000 visitors.
“Four million visitors is better than I thought we’d be able to announce. We got off to a good start – 130,000 was a fantastic number on the first day,” he said.
“We’re never going to have 130,000 every day, but four million in the first eight weeks is ahead of where we thought we’d be.”
Around 80,000 people are visiting the centre every day now and Land Securities’ executive director Richard Akers said that feedback from retailers about trade has been “very positive”.
The centre has taken trading hours up to 8pm, which is a first for Leeds.
“The restaurants are trading so, so well. People are booking in advance because it’s so busy. The performance of the restaurants is solid evidence that the evening economy has changed for the better in Leeds,” said Mr Jennings.
The centre is now 93 per cent let with two per cent in solicitors’ hands. This is up from the opening when the site was 90 per cent pre-let and five per cent in solicitors’ hands.
Land Securities has bought the 635-space Boar Lane car park from NCP to boost visitor numbers to the city centre.
Mr Jennings said that fears that the opening could cannibalise sales at the group’s White Rose Centre to the south of the city appear to be unfounded.
While footfall nationally is down 2.5 to 3.0 per cent, White Rose has fallen by 0.5 per cent.
“It is a nominal fall. Because of Trinity Leeds we might have expected footfall to come off at White Rose, but it hasn’t. We’re still seeing White Rose performing very well. It’s attracting around 12.4 million visitors a year,” said Mr Jennings.
White Rose has signed up two new restaurants, Prezzo and Homemade Burger as part of its strategy to improve the centre’s food and beverage offer. Land Securities has just started work on building the restaurants.
Bank, the fashion retailer, has moved from its 2,500 st ft site into the 5,000 sq ft acre site that was let to HMV before it went into administration. Bank now sits alongside the newly opened Paperchase.
Land Securities has drawn up plans to extend White Rose to include a new 12-screen cinema, four new restaurants and increased floorspace for existing tenants Debenhams and Primark.
The extension, which is subject to planning permission, will create up to 1,000 new jobs in the area.
Primark is due to open a 107,000 sq ft store at Trinity Leeds in the autumn in addition to its proposed extension at White Rose. Debenhams also wants to expand its store at White Rose.
Mr Jennings said that as the retail environment changes with the growth of the internet, Land Securities is adapting its retail portfolio through better store configuration and it is embracing new consumer technologies and social media.
“Trinity Leeds is one of the most digitally advanced shopping centres in Europe,” he said.
“In these difficult times for the UK economy, we are staying ahead of the game, working in partnership with our occupiers to provide the right space with the supporting physical and technical infrastructure that will enable them to succeed.”
Strategy delivers Strong set of results
Land Securities’ net income rose two per cent to £533m in the year to March 31.
Revenue rose 10 per cent to £736.6m and revenue profit, which excludes one-off items, fell three per cent to £290.7m as a result of asset sales.
The amount of unrented space fell from 2.8 per cent to 2.0 per cent.
Land Securities’ chief executive Robert Noel said: “We have delivered a strong set of financial results with a 4.6 per cent increase in net asset value and dividend growth of 2.8 per cent.
“Our strategy to focus on developing early in the cycle led to success at Trinity Leeds and Buchanan Street, Glasgow which both opened their doors close to fully let in March.”