Lakeside makes play for supermall status with leisure extension opening
Under-pressure shopping centres giant Intu has unveiled one big hope for future growth with the opening of the £72 million leisure extension at its key Lakeside mall in Essex.
The extension reflects the trend among shopping centre owners to try to diversify their tenant mix and to encourage higher footfall (the company is hoping for millions more visitors) because of that diversification. The new space is all about experiences and entertainment with one aim being that visitors may come for fun, but they’ll stay and shop as well.
The 225,000 sq ft expansion is anchored by some of Britain’s biggest leisure operators, with Intu saying that they should help convert its average 20 million a year visitors into 22 million+ “and transform the centre into a major South East tourist destination.”
The mall has been put in the shade in recent years by the larger Bluewater operation nearby in Kent, as well as the two more recently opened Westfield malls in East and West London.
So what has changed at Lakeside? New attractions there include Puttshack’s second site, one of Hollywood Bowl’s biggest venues, and trampoline park brand Flipout. Nickelodeon’s first UK family entertainment centre will also launch in the autumn and there has been a massive expansion of the food and dining offer.
CEO Matthew Roberts said: “Compelling leisure experiences are well-recognised drivers of shopping centre footfall and dwell time and a project of this scale is a real first for the UK market.
“It has been created to ensure Intu Lakeside remains one of the country’s most popular retail and leisure destinations for many years to come and we have curated a fantastic of mix of flourishing leisure and dining brands to guarantee its success.”
And importantly, the company also said that the new space and a multi-million-pound refurbishment of the rest of the centre has been welcomed by retailers including Zara and River Island "who in turn have invested millions extending and refurbishing their Intu Lakeside stores.”
And with an eye to the longer-term future, Intu has additionally unveiled its vision to develop more than 1,000 homes at Lakeside as part of its new, five-year strategy. In addition to helping the property giants to diversify its business, it also adds thousands more new consumers living virtually next door to the mall.
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