Property developer Westfield has hit back at claims that its Westfield London shopping centre is underperforming, and says it is on track to hit 10 million visitors by the end of the month.
Recent press reports have suggested that retailers are unhappy that footfall at the west London mall was as much as 40% lower in February than in its debut month last October.
Westfield acknowledged that footfall was down but said this was to be expected. The developer declined to give specific footfall or sales figures but leasing director David Slade said that the centre was well ahead of expectations.
“It’s very naive to compare footfall for a grand opening and the run-up to Christmas with February,” he said.
“Footfall probably was down in February, but that happens every year. You have to compare figures on an annual basis and we haven’t had 12 months yet. The economy is going through difficult times and we never dreamed we’d have 10 million visitors at this point. We are happy with the performance and so are the majority of retailers.”
The centre, which is in Shepherds Bush in west London, has signed new brands in its luxury village including premium tailoring label Pal Zileri, which will open a store in April. Louis Vuitton is also fitting out its store which will open in May.
Other new signings in the main hall include footwear chain Deichmann Shoes, kidswear retailer Bébé Bisou, and footwear mini chain Footasylum, which launched a new store concept last week. Footwear chain Fratelli Rossetti also opened this month.
Slade acknowledged that a few retailers were unhappy and that Westfield was in talks with them about their futures at the centre. “It’s inevitable that there are some retailers who haven’t done as well as they wanted,” he said.
He also added that talks were ongoing about a hike in service charges at the centre. Slade said that initial quoted charges were based on estimates from 2005 and 2006 and the new charges reflected energy price rises since.