|Businesses sign up for future with the Galleries as events and free parking drive visitors
Town centre businesses in the Galleries shopping centre in Wigan have spoken of their excitement for the future after extending their leases.
Fifteen businesses have extended or renewed their lease since Wigan Council bought the centre earlier this year.
This comes as new events organised by the Galleries and the council have attracted thousands of visitors to the centre and free weekend parking has brought thousands more people to the town centre.
The council acquired The Galleries shopping centre earlier this year to deliver the regeneration of the centre.
New diverse uses will be identified for the centre alongside attracting new retailers and retention of its most popular stores.
National chains which have renewed or extended their lease include: Toni & Guy, Bodycare, Thorntons, Home Bargains, Savers, Poundland and Card Factory.
Local and independent retailers who have signed up include: Royal Perfumery, Uptown Diner, Book Cycle, Varanni Shoes, Country Larder, Beverley Hills Nails, Davinci and Designer Outlet.
A new Turkish barber shop has been attracted to Makinson Arcade and CBRE, who are managing the centre on behalf of the council, are in negotiations with a number of other occupiers to take new premises.
William Allan, owner of Mr. Allan’s jewellers in Makinson Arcade has renewed his lease for five years. He said: “We started out based in Manchester but relocated to Wigan 22 years ago and it was a very wise move. We have a fantastic client base here and are very established. We are more than pleased that the council has taken over because they have our best interests at heart.”
Carol Barrett owns The Royal Perfumery based in The Galleries and renewed her lease for three years. She said: “We have an exceptionally loyal customer base, which is part of the reason I wanted to stay here but in addition, we feel really safe in The Galleries knowing it’s all locked up at night.
“We’ve also seen more of a buzz in the town centre thanks to recent events, so we’re hopeful that this will only continue.”
Successful events held so far include the Comic Con – Guardians of the Galleries, which attracted 6,000 people, Food Fest on the Square, 3,500, and Strawberry Square, 1,400 children completing the trail.
Councillor David Molyneux, leader of Wigan Council, said: “It is a real vote of confidence in the future of the Galleries that we have retailers both national and independent signing to staying and thriving in the centre.
“The council wanted to bring more vibrancy, footfall and diverse uses to the centre and in the first six months we have made a start in achieving this.
“The success of the events so far coupled with the free parking on weekends shows that there is still a big appetite for people to come to Wigan town centres but are after experiences and food and drink as well as to shop.
“We are pleased to announce new investment in Makinson Arcade too.
“This is a real heritage asset for the town. It was built in 1898, so has stood for over 100 years and we are keen to ensure it is here in another 100.”
Ben Moorhouse, director at CBRE, said: “We are pleased to agree commitment from national chains and delighted that a number of local operators have committed to the scheme.
“We are well aware that they are the lifeblood of the town and that they provide a unique shopping offer for visitors to the town’.”
Events coming up at The Galleries include Light Night parade, the launch of 100 poppies to commemorate 100 years of end of WW1.
The acquisition of The Galleries will help to fulfil Wigan Council’s side of The Deal to support the local economy to grow.
The move by the council follows years of decline for The Galleries, which covers a huge site of six acres in the middle of Wigan, with a historic lack of investment.
The purchase also included the Makinson Arcade and Marketgate.
Work is continuing on the wider regeneration masterplan for the centre and the council will update the public once the next step is agreed.