London Waterloo, one of Britain’s busiest rail stations, has today opened a new balcony with a number of retail outlets as it seeks to improve the passenger experience while reducing congestion.
Part of Network Rail’s £25 million improvement project, the 220 metre balcony will house 38 stores in total, with seven opening their doors this morning.
New units opening today are Yo! Sushi, Fat Face, Hotel Chocolat, Oliver Bonas, Links of London, Thomas Pink and Joules, with further additions opening soon.
Darren Williams, Retail Director at Hotel Chocolat, told Retail Gazette that the new store is a great opportunity for the specialist company.
“We are one of the first retailers to open on the mezzanine today which is exciting,” he said.
“We have just opened our doors and the development is stunning, this will transform the station and we are very happy with how the store looks.
“This store differs from our spaces in Kings Cross and Euston which are more format stores; this is actually closer to our typical boutiques in terms of size.
“We have created a non-typical railway store making it more unique to the station.”
Following on from the opening of the new Western concourse at London’s King’s Cross in March, the space seeks to rejuvenate Waterloo in time for the London Olympics.
Some 300,000 passengers pass through the station daily and the development has also seen escalators and lifts installed as well as existing outlets repositioned from the middle of the main concourse to the mezzanine, offering passengers a broader choice of eateries and shops.
Commenting on the development, which will see retail capacity total 55,000 sq ft, Network Rail’s Director of Property David Biggs said: “We are dedicated to improving the facilities, layout and retail experiences for millions of commuters nationwide through various station expansion projects within Britain’s major cities.
“As with the new western concourse at King’s Cross earlier this year, the Waterloo balcony project forms part of our wider retail strategy to create ‘destination’ stations for both rail passengers and non-travelling customers.”