Trafford Center is a landmark UK retail destination with over 150 brands, an exquisite food and beverage offering and numerous exciting leisure activities all under one roof. In this month’s cover story, RLI sat down with Rhys Evans, Managing Director of Asset Management at Pradera Lateral and Russell Loveland, Director of UK Asset Management at Pradera Lateral to learn more about the leading UK center and what its next steps are.
Opened back in 1998, Trafford Center has become the go-to shopping destination in the North of England thanks to its fantastic mix of high street favorites alongside affordable luxury brands. The center continues to hold a unique appeal as its spectacular design, both inside and out, has made it one of the most Instagrammable shopping centers in Europe.
“Trafford Center is a unique and very significant asset in the UK and it holds an important place in the hearts and minds of our customers and partners. The prospect of working on Trafford Center was a truly alluring one and an opportunity we could not afford to miss,” explains Rhys Evans, Managing Director of Asset Management at Pradera Lateral. “Having spent the first period of management on stabilizing the asset and bringing new and exciting brand partners into the center, we are very much looking forward to moving the asset forward to the next stage by bringing even more variety and exciting content to the scheme, “explains Russell Loveland, Director of UK Asset Management at Pradera Lateral.
The site features two iconic focal points, The Great Hall and The Orient and these are home to some of the center’s most stunning design features, including one of the world’s largest chandeliers. The two areas also host the scheme’s main F&B offering, which is now fully let with the recent arrival of The Real Greek, Franco Manca and Wingstop.
Evans explains that the design of these areas has always been a real crowd-pleaser, featuring a sky of constellations and recognizable global landmarks for different international cuisines. Pradera Lateral are keen to retain the overarching design of both The Great Hall and The Orient, while at the same time introducing new ideas. An example of this is the fact that the pool has been removed to make way for an indoor events area, to allow for pop-ups and activations for visitors to enjoy throughout the year.
“We have also extended the outdoor event space immediately outside The Great Hall to host large-scale seasonal events that have proven immensely popular already, including our summer festival Summer Daze, Halloween Spookfest and upcoming Christmas activation Tinseltown,” comments Evans.
The recent difficult times have meant that some unexpected spaces have become available on-site and part of the former TopShop unit has been taken by JD Group to become the largest JD Sports store in the world and its global flagship which has been an exciting development for the centre.
The ambition of Pradera Lateral is to create a truly unique retail mix with store offerings unavailable elsewhere in the North of England. The vision is for the project to be a home for flagships, concept stores and a launchpad for new brands.
Ensuring a dynamic retail mix has been a top priority for Pradera Lateral and since their appointment more than 90 separate deals have been completed, accounting for around 600,000 sq ft of space.
The recent Dyson unveiling has been a huge success and the Trafford Center is only its second ever UK Demo store. H&M also chose Trafford Center for its ‘first-of-its-kind’ new store concept, featuring an open façade with the introduction of a huge H&M Home, which has been enormously popular with shoppers.
Meanwhile, the new NEXT store, which is currently in the fitting out stage, will significantly upsize the brand’s presence at the center and bring its fashion, beauty and home offerings together in a single 65,000sq ft store. In addition, the new Gap store has arrived as part of the brand’s joint venture with NEXT. Another deal has also seen the newly upsized Boss store open in the affordable luxury area alongside the arrival of its younger brand Hugo.
“It’s not just about ensuring we have the best of strong and established brands, we also like to add something different to the mix. A great example is the newly opened flagship store for Origin Kicks, who curates an authentic collection of sneakers and streetwear to deliver an iconic trainer re-sale offer. As well as being a local brand, it is a great example of our intention to seek out and deliver really interesting retail concepts at the center,” explains Loveland.
In addition to a wide and diverse retail offer, Trafford Center incorporates a 20-screen Odeon cinema including IMAX, Namco Funscape featuring bowling, arcade games, dodgems and pool tables.
“Trafford Center is an entirely unique destination thanks to its spectacular design and architecture. It houses so many diverse brands, including our anchor Selfridges, which is a significant draw for visitors throughout the North of England. It is this, combined with their indoor leisure offering that provides visitors to the site with so many options to ensure a truly extraordinary experience,” Loveland comments.
As the time with the two members of Pradera Lateral reaches its conclusion, Evans explains that people are the biggest driver behind the success of the Trafford Centre. The team includes individuals who have been involved in and devoted to the scheme since construction, as well as newer members who bring fresh perspective and ideas having worked in large retail scheme management across the UK and different parts of the world. They all share a passion to make this truly unique destination the best in the UK and a significant destination on the European map.
“Our focus will continue to be on delivering new and exciting offerings to our guests, many of which will come online in 2023 with lots more exciting retail and leisure additions to follow in 2024 and beyond. We are striving to create a world-class offering and nationally significant brand experience center,” Loveland concludes.