Westfield Stratford City is this year expected to generate footfall that will smash its 2012 record when the Olympics were held, according to the man who led its development.
With today marking exactly four years since the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Westfield’s head of development John Burton said the impact of the Stratford shopping centre – which opened in 2011 and is located on the edge of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – was not a one-off.
Retailers from the UK and around the world have set up shop at what is now London’s biggest shopping centre, and one of the biggest in Europe. There have also been a few UK-first openings, such as American Eagle and Lindex, plus the recent announcement IKEA will open its first Order and Collection point at Westfield Stratford.
“The year of the Olympics, we were generating around 47 million (in footfall), which was quite insane,” Burton told the Retail Gazette.
“In 2015 we were already back to 47 million, and this year we continued to grow, so you should expect this year to exceed that Olympic number.”
“Those people that believe it was a one-off thing really don’t understand that the way this whole part of London is coming together.”
Burton added that Westfield Stratford City was part of a key commitment in the original bid for the London Olympics: to secure a legacy for east London.
He said that in addition to the neighbouring Olympic park, the shopping centre had a pivotal role as a catalyst for the regeneration of Stratford, a socially and economically disadvantaged area.
“You can look back and say what a key role key role Westfield Stratford city played during the 2012 Olympics,” Burton told the Retail Gazette.
“It was an opportunity to make wholesale change to an area that had a particularly poor reputation, and was suffering financially.
“The pace of change here means this is not a one-time story. We’ve certainly got a lot more office development, residential development, so there’s more to come.
With the Rio 2016 Olympics only nine days away, Burton said he was confident the UK retail industry would benefit from it as it did during the recent Euro Tournament.
“Retailers are good at managing events, they’ll recognise an opportunity,” he said.