I’ll start this post by setting my stall out just so we all know where we stand… I’m not a fan of shopping ‘malls’. I’m a high street, small independents, out in the elements kind of girl. When Westfield started its development in Shepherds Bush I felt a little affronted for the small local retailers and nearby shopping destinations, and quite sure that it would be a commercial white elephant. Well, I had to take that back as I started to enjoy the odd swift flit for a late night shop, a quick Toppers fix when it was raining/ snowing outside, a movie and a Wagamama’s combo with the girls. It seems that Westfield has found a place in my retail routine, and I’m a wee bit of a ‘mall’ convert.
So, when I was invited to a pre-opening visit to the bigger, newer, snazzier Westfield in Stratford, I was really quite excited. I went over on Tuesday and was given a very informative catch up on the plans and progress of this behemoth (the biggest mall in Europe) and then a guided tour in amongst the army of hi-vis vested builders all working frantically to finish off for the launch date of 13th September. The viral video has gone live. The ad campaign hit our screens in the middle of Saturday’s X Factor. These guys are gearing up for a mega launch.
There will be around 370 stores, restaurants and bars, two hotels (no doubt all ready booked to the hilt for the Olympics) and a casino. This will be the 120th mall in the Westfield family’s portfolio, and they are not messing about. Serving as a key entrance to the Olympic Park, this mall is not only going to be a destination for is huge East side catchment area, it will also be inundated with Olympic ticket toting visitors for the 2012 games. Westfield have taken this all on board and have integrated many authentic East London rooted elements (concierge outfits designed by East London based Julian J Smith, lighting by local designers, the current pre-launch website celebrating East London), but this is also about stores showcasing their biggest, newest and most glamorous versions of themselves with fabulous new shop-fits and innovative retail concepts.
The team who hosted us feel really passionately about Westfield Stratford, and you can feel a little frisson of competition with their West London sister. The team expressed how different the experience will be at the Stratford Westfield, but I have to say that what I saw (admittedly unfinished) feels really quite similar. This does not take away the fact that this is a massive plus for East London, its incredibly excitingly located, right next to the Olympic Park, and the development is cited as one of the most environmentally efficient in the UK which is fabulous. I’ll be hopping on the London Overground train to see the finished product for sure, and I don’t get on a train for just any old thing.
Thanks to the team who looked after us so well, from Westfield and Propellornet. See you on the 13th!