Town centre celebrates improving retail scene

The Galleries manager Victoria Nichol
The Galleries manager Victoria Nichol

WIGAN’S town centre is on the up, thanks to new investment and events to promote high street shopping.

Latest information from the Local Data Company shows that the North West is improving its shop vacancy rates, and in doing so has finally shaken off the title of the worst performing region it has held since 2008.

The North West now has a vacancy rate of 18.6 per cent, improving by -1.5 per cent and just steering ahead of the North East, with 18.8 per cent.

And Wigan’s town centre bosses say they have seen their own upturn, with a rise in footfall, which they attribute to the council’s £2.2m scheme to redevelop Wigan and Leigh town centres.

The Galleries Shopping Centre is also undergoing a major transformation to improve its facilities.

Coun David Molyneux, deputy leader of Wigan Council, said: “We all know people’s shopping and leisure habits are changing.

“We’ve got to make sure our town centres are fit for the future and that’s what significant investment by Wigan Council is all about.

“Creating town centres that local people are proud of and which meet the needs of the local community is an important priority for the authority.”

Galleries manager Victoria Nichol said: “The Galleries is going through a renaissance with several regeneration projects in the pipeline, including a £90,000 investment to repair the Makinson Arcade roof.

“The centre is at the heart of Wigan town and it’s vital to people for jobs.

“We strive to organise events that get people talking and increase footfall like our recent Northern Soul video and Battle of the Buskers Competition, both of which showcase the town, the centre and the community and in return attract new potential tenants to The Galleries.

“We work closely with the local council to help provide support, guidance and financial assistance to help traders move into their own units.

“We are always happy to talk to local businesses who are looking to maybe move from a home business into the shopping centre or start-up businesses looking for their first premises.

“If anyone is interested in finding out more they can call the centre management team 01942 825734.”

Grand Arcade centre manager John Sanson said: “The Grand Arcade is doing really well. We now only have one vacant unit out of 45 and our footfall in the final quarter of last year was up.

“We have come through our bad time in 2009/10 when developer Modus went into administration, but our new landlords Redefine Properties International has done a lot of work.

“We want to provide a shopping centre that looks like it is well tenanted.

“There are still a few issues with retail, with Bank in administration we might lose that shop. It is not a Grand Arcade problem, it is a national concern.”