It is 10 years since Westfield Derby, now Intu Derby, opened on 9th October 2007. The £340 million shopping complex was Westfield’s first in the UK and attracted many new retail names to Derby. Some stores were opening their first outlet outside of London, although hopes that other big names would join them, such as John Lewis, failed to materialise.
Westfield, which replaced the Eagle Centre, became home to 200 retail outlets and created 3,000 jobs, although opinion was soon divided on whether-or-not it was a good thing for the city. Many enjoyed the big-city shopping experience now available in Derby, whilst others pointed to the lack of footfall in other parts of the city which resulted in the closure of some businesses in The Lanes, Sadler Gate and Cathedral Quarter of the city.
The new centre was opened by, then, Strictly Come Dancing hostess Tess Daly. 150,000 people were thought to have visited Westfield Derby on that first day with 800,000 taking a look during the first week.
Derby City Council leader Chris Williamson said that with all this new investment coming to Derby, this was the beginning of a wonderful journey. He added: “I’m delighted that Derby has been chosen by Westfield as its first shopping centre in the UK.”
A dancing theme ran through the day with appearances from other stars of Strictly Come Dancing: celebrities DJ Spoony and Claire Sweeney and professional dancers Lilia Kopylova and Darren Bennett.
Westfield Derby manager Janine Bone later reported that the centre had done very well in its first year despite a difficult trading climate at the time. “We had 25 million customers through our door in the first year which far exceeded our expectations,” she said. “Derby moved up the retail league table from 53rd to 38th the biggest rise of any town or city in 2008. This reflects that we are attracting customers from a far wider area who now travel into Derby.”