Ilford town centre still strong despite Westfield, says mall boss.
Stars came out for the launch of Europe’s biggest ever shopping mall on Tuesday, as the boss of Ilford’s own shopping centre said big business is still showing and interest in the town.
Although he urged caution over competition from the �1.45 billion Westfield in Stratford City, Mark Myers, Manager of the Exchange Ilford, High Road, said people will continue to visit their local town centre.
In a glittering opening ceremony the �1.45 billion Stratford mall was launched by London mayor Boris Johnson, along with model Kelly Brook, pop star Nicole Scherzinger and West Ham manager Sam Allardyce on Tuesday.
Mr Myers said: “It would be niaive not to express some concern [about Westfield] as it is competition for us.
“But I am urging the town centre to understand what a different proposition Westfield is to Ilford town centre.”
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Mr Myers said that he expects the Europe’s largest shopping mall to be visited by people about once every six weeks, like Bluewater or Lakeside centres, but that shoppers from the diverse local community will stay faithful to their town centre, visiting two to three times per week.
He added: “In my own shopping centre, Next have the confidence to turn a 9,000 sq ft into a 20,000 sq ft one. And news stores like Primark and, a few years ago, Wilkinsons, have shown a real confidence in Ilford Town Centre.”
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In Stratford eager shoppers queued from 8am on Tuesday for a first glimpse of the 300 stores and food outlets, hours before many of them opened.
Westfield will employ about 18,000 staff in shops like John Lewis, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.
The mega-mall includes a food market, 17-screen Vue cinema, three hotels, a bowling alley and entertainment space.
To help combat the threat from Straford City, The Exchange Ilford is undergoing a �10million revamp that will be completed before Christmas. The shopping centre attracts 11 million visitors per year.
Figures from July showed that, since the opening of Primark in the High Road in May, Ilford town centre saw 20,000 extra shoppers per week.