By Charlie McNalus
A MARKET trader says he had his worst ever day of sales on the day a new £165 million shopping centre opened next door in Leeds.
The new John Lewis and Victoria Gate buildings opened last Thursday on Vicar Lane.
But some independent traders in the city fear it will hit their profits.
Bob Watts, 57, of Seacroft, who runs a specialist collectable toy stall in Leeds Market said: “Put it this way it opened last Thursday and I had my worst ever day, I only took £17.50, I usually take at least £150 and at most £300.
“It was very poorly conceived of where they have placed it, it is not an ideal spot. John Lewis is a top of the range designer shop, the market is right at the bottom, they are two different worlds.
“The fruit and veg stalls will probably stay steady – no-one’s going to go to John Lewis to buy fruit and veg. But it has really hit me hard.”
Debra Bellamy, 50, the owner of The Little Pink Wardrobe Boutique in Leeds Corn Exchange, said: “I think it will affect me to a certain degree, Leeds is becoming very commercialised and overpopulated, there are many places for customers to go shopping now.
“We are based in a very different area which is independent so it is too early to tell, but when the Trinity Centre opened that did affect us.”
According to Leeds City Council, the opening of Victoria Gate puts Leeds in the top three best places for shopping in the country.
And the council says once completed, later this year, the £13 million revamp of the market will establish it as part of the city’s main retail centre.
A spokeswoman for the council said: “We are confident that in the long term the improvements to Kirkgate Market will help retain it as a really great place for shoppers and traders.
“However, we are well aware of the short term impact that the ongoing work at the market and at Victoria Gate, is having on some of the traders.
“We have agreed to increase the current discount in rent from 20 per cent to 50 per cent until the end of October when the majority of the works will be complete.
“The traders are the lifeblood of Kirkgate Market and it is important that we recognise their commitment.”