AWARD-WINNING Dalton Park is celebrating a decade in business.
Ten years ago this month, so called ‘It Girl’ Tara Palmer-Tomkinson cut the ribbon at the official opening of the 60-store shopping hot spot - on the former Murton Colliery site.
Since then it has defied retail downturns with sales improving year-on-year and visitor numbers increasing 30 per cent since 2003.
More than 11 million cars have entered the centre’s car park, and produced a 25 million visitor count.
Marketing manager at Dalton Park, Louise Thompson, said that its success lies in constant evolution.
“Since 2003, customer tastes and needs have changed,” she said.
“Dalton Park has successfully identified and met those changes with a series of openings, brands and offers that continue to enhance the shopping experience.
“Out of the original 60 stores from 2003, 28 still remain.
“Some of those have re-branded, some have moved – taking more space – and some have re-located to different parts of the mall.”
Stores celebrating 10 years in business include the M&S outlet, Next clearance, Joseph, Crabtree & Evelyn, Thorntons and Millies Cookies.
Sixty members of staff have also been at the Park since the beginning and will be given a celebratory party to say thank you for their work.
Dalton Park has won a number of awards over the past decade.
“They include the BCSC Purple Apple Pip in 2004 for the launch campaign,” said Louise.
“And the Environment Awards 2012 from Durham County Council, the Park Mark for safe car parking, and Loo of the Year, Gold Standard.”
The two-month-long anniversary celebrations will begin on Saturday when the mall area will be decorated, and cake and games available for shoppers to take part in.
“Dalton, the outlets cuddly character will be out and about to meet everyone, wearing his new birthday hat,” said Louise.
“Visitors can help to decorate our giant birthday cake, and everyone who does will be given a free cupcake.”
Dalton Park is now planning the £35million phase two of its development, to include a five-screen cinema, pub, hotel, supermarket and petrol station.