GRAND CENTRAL is planning a “massive celebration” to mark its first year, but has declared “this is just the beginning”.
“I still can’t believe that we’ve been trading for one year already,” said Jonathan Cheetham, Grand Central general manager.
“The feedback has been incredible with the people of Birmingham, still to this day, really feeling a sense of pride about Grand Central.
“The centre has flourished since its launch with the people really embracing the new shopping and dining hub, along with the brands it has brought to the city.”
Those new brands include Foyles, Hobbs and Tiger, and the centre has also become a platform for independent retailers such as Steel & Jelly, Cocomacs and Yaki Nori.
Mr Cheetham has seen the transformation of the site from the former Pallasades to Grand Central, as well as the big changes the development has had on our city.
He said: “It has been a tremendous year at Grand Central with a lot of hard work from everyone involved and some really special moments.
“This is just the beginning though, and we’re really excited to continue seeing the people of Birmingham embracing the new centre and the brands it has brought to the city.”
JOHN LEWIS is preparing to celebrate an “absolutely fabulous” year in Birmingham as Grand Central throws its first birthday party this weekend.
The retailer’s arrival was a key part of the transformational change the development had on Birmingham city centre.
“We had waited for such a long time for the right opportunity in the West Midlands, so it was a really exciting launch for us,” said store manager Lisa Williams, who returned to her home city after 25 years with the company.
“We went from launch into Black Friday, then Christmas and clearance – the team got used to be being really busy.”
Sales at the 250,000 sq ft store have been in line with expectations, helped by particularly strong performance from its fashion department, while technology sales have been “promising”.
Ms Williams said: “Birmingham is the youngest city in Europe – we obviously sold out in a couple of hours on the iPhone 7 launch.
“We are over-indexed on a younger customer in Birmingham, certainly younger than we are seeing in other John Lewis stores. We are managing to ride the technology storm – in a good way.”
There are “a few irons in the fire” for the year ahead, including building awareness of its home offer (“we always expect home to build more slowly”, said Ms Williams), and putting on more in-store events and fashion shows.
She added: “I think there are still lots of people that haven’t yet managed to get in yet.”
One person, however, who is expected to depart is Birmingham-born managing director Andy Street.
He will next week be confirmed as the Conservative Party candidate for next year’s mayoral election, ahead of the party conference in the city. He has already agreed he will step down from his role at John Lewis when that happens.
“We still need to see what happens,” said Ms Williams, diplomatically.
The success of John Lewis and Grand Central has also boosted the public profile of Mr Street, who was also chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, who will be hoping voters transfer their respect for the values of John Lewis to his individual candidacy.
But before next week’s party conference is this weekend’s party, although Mr Street will be missing from the festivities.
Ms Williams added: “We have been celebrating behind the scenes with sandwiches, crisps, cupcakes – like a proper first birthday party.
“We are really looking forward to celebrating with our customers tomorrow.”