AM hails shopping centre as a £165m retail powerhouse on its fifth birthday

A shopping centre that defied the recession and created 1,000 new jobs in Wrexham is celebrating its fifth birthday.

Local AM Lesley Griffiths hailed Eagles Meadow as a £165 million a year retail powerhouse.

She joined centre manager Kevin Critchley to help celebrate the milestone which opened in October 2008 when the UK was in the grip of the worldwide credit crunch.

Since then the number of shoppers who go there every year has risen by 500,000 to more than three million annually.

The AM, who is also the Minister for Local Government and Government Business in the Welsh Government, said: “It’s great to be here to celebrate Eagle’s Meadow’s fifth birthday. It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years already.

“I do now think that it’s very much become an accepted part of the town. It’s become part of the fabric of the community.

“Some of the stores have been here from the beginning. We’ve also seen some new businesses come in, and some independent businesses which is really good to see.

“It brings people in from the surrounding area. Not long ago I was speaking to somebody who’d come here all the way from Bala.

“It is the shopping powerhouse of North Wales.

“It provides a 1,000 of jobs for local people and brings in a huge amount of wealth for the town. Shoppers spend more than £165 million a year at the centre.

“It’s a real boon for the town. I think we were very lucky to get it.”

Ms Griffiths also praised Eagles Meadow’s track record for being environmentally friendly.

She added: “It’s got very strong green credentials. They recycle 92 per cent of their waste which is just fantastic. The Welsh Government recycling target is 52 per cent so when you put it in that context it’s amazing.

“Eagles Meadow is really leading the way on this.

“Wrexham Council have done a lot of good work around getting their recycling figure up, so it’s helping to turn Wrexham into a very green town.”

Manager Kevin Critchley was very grateful to the AM for finding the time to join the birthday celebrations.

He said: “Eagles Meadow has defied the conventional wisdom and not only survived but thrived during a difficult economic climate.

“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.”

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