Drapers had a first look at the new Icon Outlet shopping centre, which opens to the general public at London’s The O2 on Saturday.
The 200,000sq ft development will feature 175,000sq ft of outlet fashion retail across its two floors.
Brands including Hackett, Gant, Karen Millen, Dune London and Guess have signed up to the scheme, and Ted Baker is introducing a new concept store themed around the iconic O2 music venue.
A number of retailers will make their outlet debut at Icon, including Aspinal of London. Unit sizes range from 16 sq ft to 7,500sq ft with an average size of 2,500 sq ft.
80% of the total number of units are currently leased and 87% of these are being leased by fashion retailers, a factor which was integral to the project.
Leasing director for Icon Outlet, Marion Dillion, said: “Fashion is fundamental, it’s the cornerstone of the whole offer. It’s a big shift from everything that The O2 is at the moment. We have one newsagent and one O2 shop right now in terms of retail, so everything we’re doing is a big scene change.”
The project marks a new level of customer interaction with The O2 site, as executive vice-president and development at the site’s developers AEG Europe, Alistair Wood, explained.
“If you look at The O2 when it first opened in 2007, it’s fair to say a lot of people came to the area and then looked to get away from the site as quickly as possible.”
Now the focus is on creating “linked trips” between the peninsula’s different offerings, giving the Icon Outlet a captive customer base.
It’s an addition that is fully integrated with the design encouraging the flow of customers from the new retail area to the arena itself.
Dillion said: “We’re not just strapping on a retail or an outlet around The O2, we’re really trying to infuse the two together, so they’re read and experienced as one.”
The integrated nature of the project, alongside food and entertainment, is what the development team believes will set the venture apart from other outlets and make it a success in this difficult period for retail.
Dillion explained: “It’s all about putting fashion in an experiential focus rather than it just being all about shopping.”
She added: “You put it into a venue where 175 times a year you’ve got up to 20,000 people turning up to see their number one band and it’s a really different mindset to just something which is all about consumables.”
This approach is reflected in the opening hours of the outlet, which will overlap with show starting times, allowing for a crossover of fans into the retail space as well as the entertainment facilities that will open next year.
Phase two of the development on the lower level, will open in March, with a large retail presence, alongside restaurants, a Hollywood Bowl and the largest cinema in London.
O2 priority customers will be able to shop at the Icon Outlet from 18 October before the general public are allowed access on the 20 October.