CHESTER’S Forum Shopping Centre manager Lawrence Allen, pictured, is celebrating his 10th anniversary at the helm of the city’s Northgate retail development.

The Manchester-born retail management expert arrived in Chester in 2001 after a career spanning two decades during which he held posts at major shopping centres including the Arndale in Manchester and at Shrewsbury.

“It’s incredible to think I’ve been here for a decade however, it is also extremely satisfying to see that the Forum, which has a special place in the hearts of Chester folk, is still trading well despite the toughest economic climate for years,” said Lawrence, who has been credited with putting the centre firmly on the Chester map.

“Our visitor numbers remain very healthy and thanks to the efforts of people like Bob Lelliott, manager of Chester Against Business Crimes, the city centre is a much safer and friendlier environment than when I first arrived.

“In fact the city management team have been very supportive over the years and they fully recognise the importance of the city’s retail offering.”

And Lawrence is particularly proud of the celebrity “support” he has received during his 10 years at the Forum.

“I’ve been astonished at the big names that have appeared in the Forum over the years,” he explained.

“For instance Sir Paul McCartney and his then wife Heather Mills turned up unannounced in 2003 and bought some pink oriental lilies and a red freesia from our flower stall. We later had a visit from ex EastEnders’ star Patsy Palmer.