After years of construction, the new Victoria Gate shopping centre opened its doors on Thursday 20th October, along with its flagship John Lewis store.
The £165m retail development boasts a wealth of new shops including Anthropologie, Tommy Hilfiger and GANT.
The introduction of the new brands and stores into Leeds builds upon the existing Victoria Quarter arcades, which have long been a prime destination for premium shopping both within Leeds and more widely in the North.
The existence of John Lewis in Leeds was something taken into consideration at the planning stages of the centre. When surveyed, Leeds residents looked favourably on the idea of a John Lewis in Leeds. The store itself was noticeably absent from the Leeds area before, with the brand being heavily concentrated in Central and South England.
Like John Lewis, for many of these brands, it is their first introduction to a shopping centre in the North of England. Some brands, such as Ghost and Bailey Nelson, will be opening their first stores outside of London.
The opening of Victoria Gate, along with the introduction of Trinity three years ago, is set on making Leeds into a primary retail destination in the North. Leeds will be able to cater to all shoppers and hopes that by doing so within a more compact area than retail rival Manchester, it hopes to become the default destination for shopping in the North.
Furthermore, the new Victoria Gate is visually stunning. The architectural company, Acme, said that the design was inspired by the tradition of manufacturing textiles here in Leeds, and is created with acid-etched concrete. “There’s something to make you look twice.”
The developer, Dodson, also touched on the prevalence of online shopping as a reason for the intriguing architecture. “Experience is everything,” he said. “If a shopping centre has to compete with online buying, it has to offer a physical experience that a screen can’t.”
There is also a focus on the new jobs created in a previously underdeveloped part of the city. The development manager for the project claimed they “created just over 1000 construction jobs” and that “we will be creating another 1000 in terms of retail.”