A little more than six months away from Grosvenor's grand unveiling of a 40-acre scheme worth £950m, containing dozens of new buildings and streets of new shops, can one store from a cheap'n'cheerful Irish maverick do the trick of reversing the spend leakage to Manchester on its own?
High Street discount clothing star Primark's first Liverpool store opened on Wednesday, an 84,000 sq ft megastore in the converted former Littlewoods on Church Street, acquired as part of the 120-strong Littlewoods portfolio for £409m in 2005.
Liverpool's store even eclipses London's by size, where a 70,000 sq ft Primark opened in Oxford Street in April, causing queues of eager shoppers to form down the street.
Primark has employed 800 people to run the Church Street store, which trades over five floors from lower ground to third. Roughly three floors will be taken up with women's fashion, with one each of childrenswear and menswear.
Primark will be trying out new approaches to buying and trading environment in the new store as it attempts to maintain its strong momentum. New edgier product lines are promised, while sticking to the 'look good, pay less' motto that has tempted hoardes of women to make the journey to Manchester to visit the Primark alone.
The group's knack of sourcing fashionable lines at knockdown prices has earned Primark high praise in the form of the nickname Primarni among young women.
Richard Lucas, partner and head of retail agency in the North West for adviser GVA Grimley, said: "Primark is a High Street phenomenon and will undoubtedly be a major footfall generator for the city centre of Liverpool.
"It's another addition to Liverpool's retail offer and with Grosvenor's Liverpool One opening next spring it should stem the flow of spend leaving the city at present. Just whether it stems all of it we will have to wait and see."
Days before the Liverpool opening, the Dublin-based company issued a trading update which said Primark has once again recorded sales growth ahead of its competitors and retail analyst Verdict estimates full year growth of approximately 40%. Total like-for-like sales growth in the second half is expected to be 1%, and the retailer estimates like-for-like sales growth of approximately 7% in stores unaffected by new openings.
The retailer will have opened 32 new stores and closed five stores in the year to September 2007, taking the total number of stores to 170 and increasing space to 4.8m sq ft.