Modern Retail

From Corn to Culture – the Evolution of an Iconic Leeds Landmark

Leeds Corn Exchange at Christmas

Leeds Corn Exchange could never be described as your average shopping centre. For a
start, it boasts a rich 155-year history as one of the country’s most pioneering retailing
spaces, dating back to 1864 when it first opened its doors to Leeds’ corn traders. Things
have moved on a little since those corn trading days and retailers in Leeds Corn Exchange
are as ambitious as ever.

Few visitor destinations, let alone shopping centres can compete with its design, which still
feels futuristic, despite being created over a century and a half ago by revered British
architect, Cuthbert Brodrick. Situated in the very centre of Leeds, the Corn Exchange has
remained at the forefront of the city’s retailing scene, which is now renowned as one of the
very best anywhere in Europe, giving its name to the burgeoning exchange quarter that it
sits in.

The retailers and traders who occupy it have always given the building a special feel and,
over the years, the Leeds Corn Exchange has become known as the home of some of the
UK’s most exciting and innovative independent retail and food traders in a creative
neighbourhood. That sense of individuality and free-spirited entrepreneurialism is as strong
as ever today, with owners Rushbond PLC, who acquired the building in 2017, determined to
protect and build on its reputation as the vibrant home of some of the UK’s leading
independents.

In the last two years, Rushbond has undertaken a programme of evolutionary improvements, redecorating the interiors and improving the building’s accessibility, with planning permission submitted for the creation of a new kitchen food yard in the lower ground space laying the foundation for 21 st century exchange.

Tenants, such as jewellery maker, Stephen Roper of family firm Simcha Gallery and Fabrikk,
an ethical fashionwear brand that uses vegan cork, among other locally sourced materials,
have put the art into artisan. Leading the green revolution is vegan eatery, Humpit and The
Plant Point, which has become known as the jungle in the heart of Leeds city centre. Fashion firms All Blues Co and The Archives which specialise in heritage and denim clothing
from the Far East and America, and long-standing tenant, On The Wall are renowned as
experts and innovators in their respective fields.

Such a degree of passion and industry-leading knowledge is typical of the traders operating
in the Leeds Corn Exchange, with operators always looking to innovate and embrace digital
and technological opportunities
in order to provide customers with the very best products
and services. The real sense of community amongst traders and retailers, coupled with their
passion and expertise, have created one of the most exciting entrepreneurial retailing hubs
anywhere in the UK, and it is this that ensures the Leeds Corn Exchange remains a hugely
attractive location for independent retailers.

It’s something Rushbond is looking to protect and enhance too. “We’re working hard to create the right environment to attract the best new tenants and allow our existing tenants to thrive,” says Leeds Corn Exchange centre manager Adam Warner.


“We welcome forward thinking innovative retailers, who embrace an experience-lead
approach and offer passion alongside their product range; those who want to push
boundaries for what their shop can really mean for Leeds.


“Our vision is to create a destination that’s home to the most exciting retail and one that
offers shoppers an unforgettable experience.”

This approach to working hand-in-hand with retailers and traders is proving to be a winning combination; Leeds Corn Exchange has already registered a two per cent increase in footfall on last year, with a combination of exciting events, such as the recent Rum Festival, helping to attract bigger numbers than ever through its hallowed doors.

Leeds Corn Exchange offers a full and varied programme of events, from boxing weigh ins, as recently seen with IBF Featherweight champion Josh Warrington to award winning knitters, unique roller-skating experiences and the largest rum festival in the city. The premiere of FlatE and international DJ, Daniel Avery’s Falling Light launched Leeds International Festival to a world-wide audience whilst MP Rachel Reeves commemorated one of the most significant women in the history of Leeds, trailblazer, Alice Bacon. Memories are made at Leeds Corn Exchange which go hand in hand with a modern approach to retail.

And with big plans in place to help continue to drive footfall to the Leeds Corn Exchange –
including a food court, which is set to open next year, as well as a continued programme of
exciting events – Leeds’ most iconic shopping centre is perfectly set for the next exciting
chapter in its remarkable 155 year history.

For more information on Leeds Corn Exchange visit www.leedscornexchange.co.uk.

Holly Worthington

Holly Worthington

Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail's Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today's ever-changing market.

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