Hammerson, the developer behind the £150m Victoria Gate scheme, has teamed up with Leeds Beckett University to launch an industry consultancy project for students enrolled on the retail degree course.
Working alongside Leeds City Council, Hammerson presented the students with a brief that asked them to explore how the future of a shopping centre might evolve in a multi-channel world to deliver a marketing campaign that engages, excites and inspires the future retailers and shoppers at Victoria Gate.
The 12 students were split into two groups to complete the project which ran for one semester. Team Gateway looked at the future of retail, incorporating digital and physical space and Team Retail Fanatics looked at sustainability trends in the fashion industry.
As part of the project, the students carried out interviews with consumers, retailers and staff and undertook competitor research. This enabled them to provide insights into how Victoria Gate can best maximise its presence in a multi-channel environment, thereby creating a new retail destination for Leeds.
The teams presented their ideas and recommendations to a judging panel costing of: Sam French, marketing manager at Hammerson, Jon Brookes, community manager at Hammerson and Tracey Greig, employment brokerage manager at Leeds City Council.
Recommendations included the use of pop-up stores and personal shoppers At Victoria gate to ensure customers could use multiple channels to shop and enjoy the new centre as a destination.
Findings from the students also considered sustainability impacts and recommendations included training for retailers, customer engagement and communications, sustainable fashion shows, supporting local enterprises, as well as reducing carbon from travel.
Chris Morley, Leeds Beckett University, said: “The Victoria Gate industry consultancyproject was a terrific opportunity for our retail students to develop their research and presentation skills in a professional situation. The students were able to get involved with a live project which provided them with an insight into the industry.”
Jon Brookes, community manager at Hammerson, added: “It was fantastic to work with such enthusiastic students during the project and see such high standards with the final presentations. The insights they provided us are extremely valuable in ensuring that in today’s multi-channel world we create a retail experience at Victoria Gate where more happens.”
Coun Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council’s executive member for employment, enterprise and opportunity said: “We’re delighted to have worked in partnership with Hammerson and Leeds Beckett to help students gain professional insight into such a major project right on their own doorstep. Those skills should stand them in very good stead for the future.”