Having opened one of the UK’s landmark destinations in London this year, Westfield is now focusing on its new project at Westfield Stratford City, which is integral to the Olympic Park development, providing opportunities in the area for decades to come. RLI talks to Michael Gutman, Managing Director, Westfield Shoppingtowns.
It has been a challenging year for retail with the effects of the economic downturn felt around theworld. However, over the last few months global retail property group Westfield has experienced stronger-than-expected operating conditions in Australia and conditions stabilising in the US, the UK and New Zealand, with an improvement in global occupancy and, in the UK, occupancy levels above the national average.
The recently-opened Westfield London has fast become a part of the London landscape. Following a very strong summer, the centre continues to consolidate its role as a must-visit destination.
Complementing the existing offer in the West End and other areas of the city, Westfield London offers a unique experience with the best of the high street combined with luxury designer labels. It also boasts more than 50 places to eat and from February 2010 will be home to the country’s first all-digital cinema when the state-of-the-art, 14-screen Vue multiplex opens.
The development represents a £1.7bn investment into Shepherd’s Bush and the surrounding area. As part of the project, Westfield invested nearly £200M into improved infrastructure including new and redeveloped tube and overground stations, new bus interchange as well as road and cycle improvements. The general area has seen an uplift in footfall as a result of the centre and long-term, the group hopes that this project will act as a catalyst for further inward investment in the area.
“Shoppers are voting with their feet and we successfully surpassed our initial expectation of 20 million visitors in the first year weeks ahead of the anniversary,” says Michael Gutman, Managing Director of Westfield Shoppingtowns Ltd. “We now expect to hit around 22 million for the first year, which is a testament to the quality of the centre we have delivered.”
Anecdotal feedback from both shoppers and retailers is extremely positive, with many Westfield London stores performing in the top quartile of their portfolio. Its success is evident in the fact that some retailers are opening a second store to widen their offer within the centre
The group continues to invest in pre-development activities, however in the current operating environment and economic climate, it does not expect to commence any new major developments; its focus now firmly on Stratford, with pre-development work continuing on other projects in the pipeline including Nottingham and Bradford.
For the full article, please see the November 2009 issue.