National brands are queuing up to move into Preston, with figures revealing more than 30 major restaurants and retail operators wanting to open outlets in the city centre.
Retail consultants say top brands including Wagamama, Ed’s Easy Diner, Prezzo, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Bill’s Restaurant, Byron Burger and Chiquito have been alerted to new opportunities in the city, through the Fishergate Shopping Centre’s major plans.
Retail consultants GCW is working with Fishergate Shopping Centre owners Benson Elliot on its £40 million regeneration plans.
It says a number of big name national chains have confirmed their interest in a revamped centre which, subject to planning consent being granted by Preston Council, will deliver new and bigger retail space, a restaurant and food cluster with five family oriented outlets and a replacement cinema for Vue.
GCW believes the level of interest being shown in Preston bodes well for regeneration and investment plans across the city centre.
They estimate demand for the city from up to eight times as many brands as there are restaurants proposed at the Fishergate Centre.
David Gooch, partner of GCW, says the Fishergate Shopping Centre’s ambitious plan has alerted top brands to the new opportunities coming up in Preston.
He said: “For a city the size of Preston the restaurant offer is very limited.
“The exceptional number of requirements reflects the pent up demand and the frustration the major chains have with the lack of suitable units and locations in the city centre.”
Peter Cornforth, director of retail at Benson Elliot, said: “The interest in Preston is growing. Our regeneration plan is just the start and the arrival of well-known national chains at the Fishergate Shopping Centre will send out a message to others in the sector that Preston can deliver.
“Getting our mid-market retail and family oriented project up and running in the next few months could open the flood gates of interest for a real revolution in the city-wide dining and leisure experience.
“Many of the big names who want to come into Preston are also looking at the tourism, late evening and student markets that exist and are envisaged elsewhere in the city centre, such as the emerging Markets Quarter.
“It is an encouraging sign that they want to do business in Preston. What we have to do now is convert that interest into action and we believe that our blend of modern shopping and leisure will be a strong first step, raising the city’s profile and potential amongst the wide and still increasing pool of branded food and beverage operators.
“Preston is back on the radar for the restaurant and leisure sector and there are real opportunities here.”