Regional shopping destination rebrands to support smaller independent retailers

A Tyneside retail outlet centre is celebrating its 25th anniversary by embracing change and catering for a new generation of shoppers and leisure seekers.

Royal Quays Outlet Centre in North Shields has rebranded to recognise the many small independent businesses that have moved into the centre. Now known as the Royal Quays Independent and Outlet Centre, centre manager Matt Dawson is confident that the change will encourage more retailers and a new cohort of customers looking for a fresh shopping and leisure experience.

Since taking over management of the centre at the height of COVID, Matt has had to cope with forced shop closures, lower than average footfall, competition from online sales and a decline in the popularity of brand-based stores.

The situation reached a critical point in October 2020 when there were 17 empty units in the centre but with careful market research, planning and thinking outside of the box, Matt has reduced this to just four empty units and footfall has risen considerably.

“Retail has been battered in the past year and we have anticipated, embraced, and supported the many new businesses here. We’re not going to see large brands expand soon and it’s not easy to just pull in any large store especially as online sales have decimated many high street household names, “said Matt.

“We’ve rebranded because the expectations of people when they see Royal Quays Outlet is that it’s just an Outlet with lots of designer brands at outlet prices. We want to highlight the changes we’ve made and lead the way in showing our support to the many businesses we have here, both outlet and independent. Our hybrid model is constantly adapting, and we are proud of what we have done to make the retail future bright again.”

Indeed, many new, local independent businesses have moved into the centre including Garden World, Hauticulture and Quay Furniture.  Steven Ward from Hauticulture is one of the business owners who have moved into Royal Quays Outlet and Independent Centre.

“We welcome the change of name at Royal Quays as we feel it better reflects the new and exciting direction Matt is taking the centre. Customers continually tell us how positive the atmosphere is now and how much of an improvement it is to see so many small local independents within the centre, offering something different that you just can’t get elsewhere.”

With additional transport links created and a new vibrant feel to the centre, Matt is optimistic that Royal Quays is gearing up to face the next 25 years with confidence and a new vision for what the next generation of shopper expects.

“We are already seeing a huge difference in the centre and things are moving at a lot faster pace than even I had planned. We have embraced fantastic local independents who have integrated with our established branded outlet stores and added unique leisure and hospitality to compliment them to create a visitor destination rather than just a visit to the shops, “said Matt.