A shopping centre that defied the recession and created 1,000 new jobs in Wrexham is celebrating its fifth birthday.
Local AM Lesley Griffiths hailed Eagles Meadow as a £165 million a year retail powerhouse.
She joined centre manager Kevin Critchley to help celebrate the milestone.
Since the centre opened in 2008 the number of shoppers who go there every year has risen by 500,000 to more than three million.
The AM, who is also the Minister for Local Government and Government Business in the Welsh Government, said: “It’s great to be here to celebrate Eagles Meadow’s fifth birthday. It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years already.
“I do now think that it’s very much become an accepted part of the town. It’s become part of the fabric of the community.
“Some of the stores have been here from the beginning. We’ve also seen some new businesses come in, and some independent businesses which is really good to see.
“It brings people in from the surrounding area. Not long ago I was speaking to somebody who’d come here all the way from Bala.
“It is the shopping powerhouse of North Wales.
“It provides 1,000 jobs for local people and brings in a huge amount of wealth for the town. Shoppers spend more than £165 million a year at the centre.
“It’s a real boon for the town. I think we were very lucky to get it.”
Ms Griffiths also praised Eagles Meadow’s track record for being environmentally friendly.
She added: “It’s got very strong green credentials. They recycle 92 per cent of their waste which is just fantastic. The Welsh Government recycling target is 52 per cent so when you put it in that context it’s amazing.
“Eagles Meadow is really leading the way on this.
“Wrexham Council have done a lot of good work around getting their recycling figure up, so it’s helping to turn Wrexham into a very green town.”
Manager Kevin Critchley said: “Eagles Meadow has defied the conventional wisdom and not only survived but thrived during a difficult economic climate.
“We’re still going strong. We’re still attracting customers, and we’re still attracting tenants and retailers.
“Part of it is a good mix of shopping that we’ve got here. I think without Eagles Meadow Wrexham as a town would not have such a strong shopping offer.”