With its excellent national and international transport links and a robust commercial and residential development pipeline, Manchester has cemented itself as a thriving Northern city.
It’s encouraging to see that this prosperity is helping drive a flourishing retail and leisure offering, at a time when those sectors are undergoing challenges elsewhere.
In the last five to 10 years we have seen the retail and leisure scene adapt significantly. In Manchester this has been driven by an influx of large mixed-use developments creating exciting new city centre hubs. These hubs were initially driven by a blend of office and residential led developments, which have then expanded to become retail and leisure destinations in their own right.
The most high profile and successful example of this is Spinningfields, which has gone on to become one of Manchester’s most exciting cross sector locations, offering prime office space along with standout leisure amenities. Such is the esteem of Spinningfields that last year the prestigious Ivy Collection opened its first site in Manchester in the area, becoming one of the most talked about restaurant openings of the year. Other openings included D&D’s 20 Stories, Drake & Morgan with The Refinery and Arc Inspirations’ latest venture, Banyan.
As well as Spinningfields, we expect to witness similar growth taking place in development areas such as NOMA, a 20 acre mixed-use scheme offering four million sq ft of retail and restaurant space, substantial commercial office space, residential apartments and 500 new hotel rooms. With additional mixed-use schemes also in the pipeline in other areas, such as First Street, Middlewood Locks and more significantly Circle Square, the future for growth within the city’s retail and leisure sector looks positive.
This growing, and changing, retail scene has led to an increased emphasis forming on independent brands, with evolving consumer preferences creating a thriving market for local and regional brands. With people increasingly looking to try new experiences when it comes to leisure providers, we have started to see national restaurant chains reducing the size of their portfolios and strong regional operators increasingly providing a quality product to their specific geographical sector.
No location in Manchester is quite so synonymous with independents as the Northern Quarter, which has established itself as the primary destination for all things creative in the city and is continuing to expand its offering. In fact, this ongoing growth means that we are beginning to see the creative concepts from the Northern Quarter spread out to neighbouring areas such as Ancoats and the Old Mill buildings.
With exciting prime mixed-use developments on the horizon, accompanied by an increased appetite from consumers looking for innovative and diverse retail and leisure experiences, the future certainly looks bright for the sector in Manchester.
As independents continue to thrive, and a growing number of London-based operators look for their first locations outside of the capital, securing a high quality offer and the right tenant mix will be key for landlords if they wish to capitalise on this opportunistic market.