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Princesshay logo
Princesshay Exeter.JPG
LocationExeter, Devon, England
Opening date20 September 2007
DeveloperLand Securities
OwnerTIAA Henderson Real Estate, The Crown Estate and Devon County Council
No. of stores and services65
No. of anchor tenants3 (Debenhams , John Lewis and next)
Total retail floor area530,000 ft²[1]
No. of floorsup to 3
Parking510 places

Princesshay is a shopping precinct in the city of Exeter, Devon, England. It was built in the early 1950s to replace buildings that had been severely damaged in the World War II Baedeker Blitz. From 2005 the precinct and some surrounding buildings were demolished and rebuilt as a new shopping centre that opened in September 2007.


Opened in the 1950s, Princesshay was the first pedestrianised shopping street in the country,[2] running from Bedford Street to Eastgate House, roughly parallel with the High Street. The name was also used for the entire post-war development on the south side of the High Street between Paris Street and the Cathedral precinct, lying north of Southernhay. It replaced the pre-war area known as Bedford Circus (which included the Eastgate Arcade) that was levelled by the City Council following damage in the Blitz. Before building commenced, a plaque was unveiled at the site on 21 October 1949 by Princess Elizabeth after whom the development was named.[3]

After demolition of the precinct started in 2005, archaeological work was undertaken owing to its potential interest, being close to the centre of the ancient Roman town of Isca Dumnoniorum and being continuously inhabited since that time.[2] Among the finds were over a ton of Roman tile fragments, rare early 15th century pottery and 144 coins, one of which, dated to around 1200, was minted in the city.[4]

The post-war buildings have been replaced with a modern shopping centre, opened in September 2007. It was the subject of considerable discussion with strong views for and against; inevitable because of its proximity to the Cathedral Close and Southernhay and the design which integrated mixed housing into the Exeter retail zone, and resisted the late twentieth century drive towards bland malls.[citation needed]

Despite criticism, the site was developed by Land Securities in partnership with The Crown Estate into 530,000 sq ft of retail space accommodating over 60 stores. It won the British Council of Shopping Centres "Supreme Gold Award" in 2007, Retail Week's "Shopping location of the year" in 2008, and the International Council of Shopping Centers "Best Medium Sized Shopping Centre in Europe" in 2008.[5]

The shopping centre has a CACI rating of 30 which places it between Covent Garden and Derby in terms of its profitability. In 2011 it had an annual footfall of 9.5 million which attracted a potential spending of over £730 million.[5]


Part of Princesshay with Exeter Cathedral beyond, in 2008

Princesshay's largest stores are Next and Debenhams along with other high street stores such as New Look, Carphone Warehouse, Topshop/Topman, River Island and Zara. The centre also contains stores such as an Apple Store, Hobbs, Rose Opticians, Oasis, Superdry and a Reiss stores. Other residents include: Nike Running, Hotel Chocolat, Nando's, Build A Bear, Starbucks, Musto, Saks, Schuh, HMV (which also contains an Orange shop), Pandora and a Post Office.[1]

Princesshay has restaurants and cafes, including Byron Hamburgers, Carluccios, Cafe Rouge, Costa Coffee, Exshed, Nandos, Segafredo, Strada, Chandos Deli, Wagamama and YO! Sushi.

The late-2000s financial crisis affected the mall with the closure of many stores including Stem florist, Parchment, La Senza, Game, Warehouse and Clinton Cards.[1] However Abercrombie & Fitch Co brand Hollister and Cath Kidston have opened stores in 2012.[6][7]

Mobile device tracking[edit]

Criticism has been recognised by the media[8][9] about the use of tracking technologies employed by the centre to provide near real-time location data of mobile phones within the complex. The system was provided by the retail metrics firm Path Intelligence in 2008, and gathers data by intercepting TMSI beacons from mobile phones. By using this aggregate data, the system creates a site plan displaying the location of switched on mobile phones, and their likely users.[10]

Attempted bombing[edit]

On 22 May 2008, the shopping centre was temporarily evacuated after an explosive was detonated in one of the restaurants injuring only the perpetrator.[11] On 15 October 2008, Nicky Reilly admitted the attempted explosion.


  1. ^ a b c "Princesshay Retail Portfolio" (PDF). Land Securities. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  2. ^ a b Cornforth, David. "The history of Princesshay in Exeter before Land Securities". Exeter Memories. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  3. ^ Cornforth, David. "Hughes Phoenix". Exeter Memories. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  4. ^ Joint, Laura. "Digging up Exeter's past". BBC Devon. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Princesshay Retail Portfolio" (PDF). Land Securities. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  6. ^ "HOLLISTER COMES TO PRINCESSHAY". Princesshay. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  7. ^ "KATH (sic) KIDSTON COMES TO PRINCESSHAY". Princesshay. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  8. ^ "Princesshay Tracks Shoppers Via Mobile Phones". This Is Exeter. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  9. ^ Poulter, Sean (4 January 2012). "Big Brother Malls Trigger Privacy Row After Installing Equipment To Spy On Shoppers Via Their Mobiles". London. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  10. ^ "Shoppers Movements Get Tracked". Mystery Shopper Jobs. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  11. ^ "Man held after city centre blast". BBC News. 22 May 2008. Retrieved 24 August 2011.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°43′28″N 3°31′40″W / 50.72455°N 3.52775°W / 50.72455; -3.52775