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Home to the prestigious University of Cambridge dating back to 1209, and a whole host of archeological sites, Cambridge is a compact city with a vast choice of stores. From the hustle and bustle of the city’s seven-days-a-week market in Market Square and the Saturday All Saint’s Garden Art and Craft market, to an abundance of boutiques and independent shops as well as high street brands, designer labels and shopping centres. Cambridge has it all.

Disposable income in Cambridge is 30 per cent above the national average and, across the past year, consumer expenditure in the city grew by two per cent, above the national average.

‘Legal & General acquired The Grafton in 2015 with a vision to modernise the centre and create major improvements to the shopping environment throughout the centre. £28.5 million has been invested, across a 24-month refurbishment programme, to reconfigure retail space, create new units and a bright and modern environment to attract new retailers, improve the visitor experience and increase footfall to the centre,’ says Tom Williams, Fund Manager at LGIM Real Assets (Legal & General).

The Fitzroy Street entrance at The Grafton has reopened having undergone a major refurbishment. The entrance now features a striking double height glazed roof with feature lighting installed, which along with a new floor, creates a bright and spacious environment for visitors. Double height shop fronts have been installed to some of the larger stores and new shops have been created at this part of the centre.

‘The former BHS unit, which spreads across three floors, is now home to a brand-new H&M store, PureGym and Food Social, the new casual dining quarter. Designed to complement The Grafton’s existing leisure offer, Food Social on the first floor features an eight-screen Vue cinema and restaurants including Bella Italia, Amélie, an independent French operator has opened its first restaurant, bringing Flammekueche, a concept new to the UK. H&M expanded its store on the ground floor, upsizing by 60 per cent and introducing its H&M Home concept, joined by PureGym on the second floor,’ says Williams.

River Island has opened its reconfigured 846 sq m anchor unit, taking a prominent position within the mall. The space has been redesigned to meet the brand’s specification requirements, as part of the refurbishment to create new units, attract new retailers and increase footfall to the centre.

‘As the only shopping destination in Cambridge to offer a retail, leisure and F&B mix, The Grafton provides a destination for locals with something that appeals to everyone. This, combined with the enhanced retail and boosted leisure offer, has created an attractive and appealing environment which has encouraged more frequent visits and boosted dwell time. The Grafton has an affluent and growing catchment with 20 per cent more people in the most prosperous ACORN categories compared with the national average. There are over 30,000 students in the city, plus some 12,000 office workers within a 10-minute walk of The Grafton, adding to the diversity of the customer base,’ says Williams.

2019 is going to be an exciting year for The Grafton. ‘This year we’ve already announced that Vue Cinema has renewed its lease for 20 years and we in on-going discussions with a number of retail brands and dining operators. We’re also pursuing conversations with further leisure operators, building on The Grafton’s position as a retail-led mixed-use destination for the people of Cambridge, where they can shop, eat out, relax and socialise,’ adds Williams.

Cambridge is home to a diverse economy, and is home to the UK headquarters of several major companies, including Marshall Aerospace, Microsoft Research and AstraZeneca. It has witnessed economic growth well above the national average over the last five years and is predicted to continue to grow steadily.