A shopping centre has given North Wales a massive economic boost after clocking up £1.5 billion in spending since it opened 10 years ago, according to the local AM.
More than 500 people now work at Eagles Meadow in Wrexham which has defied the gloomy predictions when it was launched in the teeth of the recession in 2008.
As it celebrates its 10th birthday, Wrexham AM Lesley Griffiths hailed the shopping centre as a huge asset to the town.
Now more than three million people spend a total of around £165.000 million a year at Eagles Meadow.
Ms Griffiths, who is also the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs , said: “It’s hard to believe that Eagles Meadow is 10 years old it certainly doesn’t look it.
“The retail and leisure destinations at Eagles Meadow help to attract visitors to the town who would otherwise head elsewhere.
“This helps provide employment and a massive boost to the local and wider regional economy.
“It is the shopping powerhouse of North Wales.
“It provides more than a 500 jobs for local people and brings in a huge amount of wealth for the town.
“While Eagles Meadow opened at what appeared to be an inauspicious time, it has defied the doomsayers and proved to be a real boon for the town. I think we were very lucky to get it.”
According to manager Kevin Critchley, Eagles Meadow was ahead of its time in the way it was designed to combine retail and leisure in one centre.
He said: “When we opened a decade ago we were something of a trail blazer in that we had a mix of leisure outlets alongside our retail offer which was very different to the norm in 2008.
“However, things have changed and now many more shopping centres are moving toward our model and installing cinemas and other attractions, such as bowling alleys, businesses that have been a mainstay of what we have offered our visitors since we first opened.
“We do get a lot of comments that the centre doesn’t look aged or a decade old and I believe that is down to the quality of the building and the team who work hard to keep it looking right and care for it.
“Eagles Meadow also contributes much more to the economy through the many people employed in servicing and maintaining the shops and restaurants at the Centre.
“We’re still going strong. We’re still attracting customers, and we’re still attracting tenants and retailers.
“Part of it is a good mix of shopping that we’ve got here. I think without Eagles Meadow Wrexham as a town would not have such a strong shopping offer.
“It is highly unlikely if not impossible that there would be a Debenhams in Wrexham without Eagles Meadow.
“Even if we had a Marks and Spencer it would be a smaller branch, or it would have migrated out of the town centre. In addition there are a number of other retailers who would not be in Wrexham were Eagles Meadow not here.
“One reason I think we’ve thrived so much is that we’re actually complementing the whole offer within the town rather than trying to compete with it.
“One of the things we looked at very early is that there were a lot of people from Wrexham who went out to shop in Chester, or in Shrewsbury or points north of that. We’re a reason why they don’t have to do that.
“People don’t have to spend the petrol and the time travelling elsewhere. Just come into town. There’s plenty on offer here. We’ve got retail offers that you only get in larger cities normally.”
“And of course our restaurants and leisure offers such as the Odeon Cinema and tenpin means we are drawing in visitors late into the evening.
“I’m delighted with our first 10 years and look forward to building upon our success in the years to come. It’s important that we continue adding value to Wrexham’s wider appeal and boosting its economy.”