Belfast Telegraph

Victoria Square marks a decade of business and £2bn in total sales

By Emma Deighan

Belfast shopping centre Victoria Square has generated £2bn in sales across all of its retail outlets and leisure operators since it opened 10 years ago.

And it has contributed £75m in rates, it confirmed, as it celebrates a decade in business today.

The centre opened on March 6, 2008 extending the level of retail space in the city by a third.

Centre manager Michelle Greeves said Victoria Square also introduced Northern Ireland to new brands that were otherwise absent from the market including Apple, Hollister, Michael Kors, Hugo Boss and food outlets Five Guys and Zizzi.

"Retail is a major employer for Belfast and Northern Ireland, with around 15% of the workforce employed in the retail sector," she said.

"We are proud that Victoria Square has become the linchpin of the city's retail proposition, a significant employer and a major contributor to the economy through rates and our wider supply chain."

It employs 2,500 staff and is home to 70 retail units selling some 150 different brands.

As well as national and international names Victoria Square has seven local brands in its scheme and supports 50 local traders.

Criona Collins, head of retail agency at Lambert Smith Hampton, the centre's asset manager, said that it has leased 31 units and has been involved in recent projects including the revamp of anchor tenant House of Fraser.

"In the last 12 months we have worked on some very exciting investments, including the £5m renovation by House of Fraser, which saw the entrance of new brands including Charlotte Tilbury, Nars and Frederic Malle," she said.

"The new brands we bring to the centre reflect the shopping aspirations of the city and the team at Victoria Square remain focused on adapting to rapidly shifting consumer trends and delivering a vibrant retail destination for the future."

At present the site has almost a dozen retail units available for lease after some of its tenants pulled out of the centre, or their contracts came to an end.

However, Ms Collins sees these closures as "further opportunities".

She said: "While it is disappointing when any tenant chooses not to renew a lease, any vacancies in Victoria Square simply present further opportunities to bring other new and exciting brands to the city and to refresh and enhance the offering we provide to shoppers in Northern Ireland."

And Ms Greeves is hopeful that 2018 will bring more new names to the centre.

"We hope to introduce more new brands to the centre throughout 2018 and we look forward to making a continued contribution to the local economy in the next 10 years," she said.

The centre has also been the focus of many popular events over the years including, most recently, the Loose Women Roadshow fronted by television presenters Gloria Hunniford and Denise Van Outen.

And the centre has contributed £200,000 to local charities over the years and will support five mental health charities this year.

Belfast Telegraph

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