The White City in Shepherd's Bush will break retailing records
Recession? What recession! Shopping mall developer Westfield has no doubts that its £1.6 billion complex - covering nine postcodes and an area larger than Buckingham Palace and the palace gardens - will lure credit-crunched shoppers after opening today.
Mayor Boris Johnson cut the ribbon at the launch ceremony for the glass-topped White City complex, which will be Europe's biggest city shopping centre. Top-tier brands including Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Armani have signed up for retail space, with high-street favourites such as Topshop, Zara and Boots also on the list.
Michael Gutman, Westfield UK & Europe managing director, reports that 99 percent of retail space has been let so far, for a company project in development nearly 20 years. The massive centre in Shepherd's Bush will feature 265 shops, 50 restaurants, 14 cinemas and five major department stores.
Anchor stores will include Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and House of Fraser, Gutman told Reuters. He said he expects more than 20 million shoppers to visit the Westfield complex in its first year.
Despite certain commentators suggesting that this is a tricky time to launch such a huge retailing project, Gutman backs his project and believes it should beat the flailing economy. "We have opened centres in times of recession and in times of boom," he said to Reuters. "Obviously we didn't plan the building for a particular cycle. We planned it for the long-term on the basis of some solid fundamentals."
- Jill Hilbrenner
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