Marking the only major retail scheme to launch in the UK in 2016, Hammerson’s latest regeneration project, Victoria Gate in Leeds, today opens its doors to the public.
The £165 million scheme, adjacent to Hammerson’s Victoria Quarter arcade, forms part of the new 53,400m2 Victoria Leeds shopping destination. This will create the largest premium retail and leisure venue in Northern England moving Leeds up to third in the UK’s best place to shop retail rankings (Javelin).
Designed by architects Acme, the development provides Leeds with a 21st century retail arcade and is an exceptional addition to the city’s rich merchandising and textile history. Its striking façade takes inspiration from the surrounding architecture of Leeds’ historic buildings and uses a mixture of white terracotta and red bricks which were manufactured in Yorkshire and Staffordshire.
The scheme is anchored by a flagship John Lewis store, which is the first in Leeds and the largest outside of London with Victoria Gate’s two street arcade also boasting 30 new retail brands and restaurants, as well as a casino.
The scheme is 90% let and the aspirational retail line-up includes global brands such as Russell & Bromley, Nespresso, GANT, Hackett, Tommy Hilfiger, CAU, Joules, Aspinal of London, Le Pain Quotidien, Neom Organics, T2, Anthropologie and international restaurant group D&D. 77% of the line-up are debuting in Leeds and 33% of the brands are new to Hammerson’s retail portfolio.
The scheme will deliver customers with a best-in-class experience with the development incorporating exceptional customer service and digital innovation by offering click & collect services, gift wrapping, currency exchange as well as a luxury concierge service.
Having comprehensively regenerated a substantial part of Leeds that had been underutilised for some time, Victoria Gate has delivered over 1,500 employment opportunities in retail, hospitality and construction (522 new construction jobs and over 1,000 retail and leisure roles). Through Hammerson’s Employment and Skills Charter, signed in partnership with John Lewis and Leeds City Council, Victoria Gate focussed on ensuring that skills, training and access are a top priority for local residents, and in particular young people.
Victoria Gate has played a key role in supporting the local community throughout its development. In partnership with Leeds Community Foundation, the Victoria Gate Fund has contributed £30,000 of funding and supported 12 local projects in Leeds that develop the employment skills and experience of young people.
Hammerson has ensured the development meets its high sustainability standards, targeting BREEAM Excellent, with the scheme already diverting 98% of construction and demolition waste from landfill.
David Atkins, CEO at Hammerson said: “This is a truly unique development and there is nothing else like it in the UK. We are confident that Victoria Gate will set new standards for retail across Europe as it becomes an iconic piece of Leeds’ retail heritage.
“Whilst transforming the city’s luxury and aspirational shopping and dining offer, Victoria Gate will also provide a significant contribution to Leeds’ local economy with the city now set to become the undisputed regional shopping capital of the North.”
Leeds City Council Leader Councillor Judith Blake said: “Victoria Gate is already making a big impact on Leeds. It has introduced a significant number of employment opportunities locally. It is a striking scheme which has redefined the skyline in that sector of the city centre and its opening will further cement Leeds’ place as one of the best places to shop and visit in the UK. I’m delighted to welcome its opening on behalf of the city and I’m confident it will be a fantastic addition to our existing diverse offer of independent, high street and luxury retailers.”