Wigan has been given an economic boost as town centre businesses have pledged their future to staying in a landmark retail venue.
A total of 15 companies have extended or renewed leases at The Galleries Shopping Centre since Wigan Council bought the venue earlier this year.
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The names who have signed on the dotted line include both large national chains and independent local businesses.
The town hall has been trying a number of ways to get more shoppers into the middle of Wigan, including introducing free weekend parking in the town centre and putting on regular events at The Galleries.
Those who have recently signed new arrangements to stay have given the changes the thumbs-up.
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, who has renewed her three-year lease on The Royal Perfumery in The Galleries, 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.”
High-profile companies who have committed to The Galleries include Thorntons, Bodycare and Card Factory.
Managers CBRE are in talks with several other firms interested in premises.
Successful events held so far include the Comic Con – Guardians of the Galleries, which attracted 6,000 people, Food Fest on the Square which brought in 3,500 punters, and Strawberry Square during the summer holidays.
Activities included live music, crafts and a strawberry-themed trail which 1,400 children completed.
Coun 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 stay 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 centre 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.”