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Major North East shopping centre rebrands following retail crisis

Jeremy Lim
21 October 2021

The Royal Quays outlet centre in North Shields has re-branded itself to bring in smaller retailers and independent brands as it aims to bounce back from the retail crisis.

The centre, which suffered a slump in footfall amid the COVID-19 crisis, had 17 empty units by October last year as a number of national operators, including Gap and Thorntons, shut their UK high street operations.

The centre has now been renamed Royal Quays Independent and Outlet Centre, and has reduced the vacancy rate to just four shops after signing up a number of independent retailers.

Centre Manager Matt Dawson, said: "Retail has been battered in the past year and we have anticipated, embraced, and supported the many new businesses here. We’re not going to see large brands expand soon and it’s not easy to just pull in any large store especially as online sales have decimated many high street household names."

"We’ve rebranded because the expectations of people when they see Royal Quays Outlet is that it’s just an Outlet with lots of designer brands at outlet prices. We want to highlight the changes we’ve made and lead the way in showing our support to the many businesses we have here, both outlet and independent. Our hybrid model is constantly adapting, and we are proud of what we have done to make the retail future bright again."

Royal Quays, which opened 25 years ago close to the North Shields international ferry terminal, had major retails chains including Marks and Spencer, and Nike at its site.

Competition from online sales and a decline in the popularity of brand-based stores also contributed to the general decline in its discount outlets, which was further accelerated by the pandemic.

However, Dawson remains optimistic over the centre's future with the new changes in place, commenting: "We are already seeing a huge difference in the centre and things are moving at a lot faster pace than even I had planned. We have embraced fantastic local independents who have integrated with our established branded outlet stores and added unique leisure and hospitality to compliment them to create a visitor destination rather than just a visit to the shops."

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