Spotlight: Springfields Outlet Centre

East Anglia's Springfields outlet and leisure centre offers 50 retailers, with 25 acres of leisure attractions. Retail Gazette paid a visit to see why it describes itself as a "leading" outlet centre for the region.

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Springfields outlet leisure Ian Sanderson Simon Stone JLL
Springfields opened in 2004 and currently spans across 200,000sq ft

Located in the East Anglia, Springfields is the only outlet centre in the region.

It opened in 2004 and currently spans across 200,000sq ft, with 25 acres of leisure attractions set in landscaped gardens.

The centre features 50 outlet stores, eight restaurants, a 58,000sq ft garden centre and a 43-bedroom hotel.

It is owned by the Triton Property Fund, managed by UBS, and asset managed by Sanderson Leisure and Retail (SLR).


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According to the outlet centre’s owners, Springfields has experienced 14 years of consecutive turnover growth since launching and has a 98 per cent occupancy rate. SLR director Ian Sanderson added that it attracts 2.35 million visitors a year.

“The new leisure brought in 70,000 people in its first full year, just come past its first full birthday,” he told Retail Gazette.

“The brands all work together to bring the centre forward, and that’s why the footfall is up. And most importantly, the spending per head has gone up.”

Sanderson said the centre’s success is from a combination of things rather than a single factor. He said “word of mouth” from “happy customers” helps with driving footfall – especially when it’s via social media.

Springfields outlet leisure Ian Sanderson Simon Stone JLL
Springfields Outlet Centre in East Anglia centre attracts 2.35 million visitors each year.

“It’s the combined nature of all of the offering of Springfields that has led to its popularity. And its continuing to do so,” he said.

Sanderson highlighted that Springfields’ 14 years of consecutive turnover growth was down to its “unique offering”.

“It’s combined by design, leisure, and a relaxing environment. There’s lots to do for the family,” he explained.

“Springfields is the place to make money if you’re a retailer”

“We’ve been able to improve the brands over the 14 years and improve the leisure offer, and we’ve got space to do that.”

Sanderson added that the centre was “busy signing up some additional clothing and footwear operators”.

“There has been some recent store openings, such as White Stuff, Jack Wills, Joules and Estee Lauder,” he boasted.

Sanderson described Springfields as “the leading outlet centre in east England” because its team is “constantly re-evaluating, pushing forward, adding more retailers, better leisure and continuing with the innovation both on the retail front and on the technology front”.

In addition to a £2 million garden centre, Springfields’ leisure division consists of Adventure Land – a children’s play area – as well as a 40 minute water taxi cruise that links Springfields to Spalding town centre.

Springfields outlet leisure Ian Sanderson Simon Stone JLL
Springfields’ Adventure Land is a children’s play area

“The leisure bit is designed to look after the non-shoppers, while the shoppers are left to shop,” Sanderson explained.

“The water taxi and the gardens have added to customers’ communication, because we’ve got lots of people talking about it on social media.

“The water taxis that bring you to site, each one has got a Captain Bird’s Eye type of character on them.

“It’s a good link between the town centre and the centre, bringing further footfall on to the site. It carries about 40,000 people a year.”

Sanderson also told Retail Gazette of Springfields’ plans to expand.

“We’ve secured an allocation for another 50,000sq ft,” he said.

“The planning application will be launched imminently.

Springfields outlet leisure Ian Sanderson Simon Stone JLL
Springfields features a £2 million garden centre in addition to 50 outlet stores

“There’s some more leisure planned, and we’re signing up better and stronger retailers all the time.

“So the word is getting out there that Springfields is the place to make money if you’re a retailer, and a great place to visit if you’re a shopper.”

Sanderson believes the outlet sector within the retail industry was well placed to be largely recession-proof because in times of economic downturn, “people want a bargain”.

He added that due to the high demand for leisure, Springfields’ leisure offerings offers “the perfect day” and the team was not worried about Brexit uncertainty affecting business.

“We’re okay to ride out any storm that’s about come,” he said.

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