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Westfield is a big bet in Derby

Westfield Derby is the largest shopping centre to open in the UK this year and, with more than 100 new retailers being lured to the city, the scheme is set to transform Derby into a retail hotspot

It was as if a public holiday had been declared in Derby last week, as more than 150,000 people descended on the city’s new shopping centre.

The Westfield Derby scheme, a £340 million redevelopment of the old Eagle Centre, has brought a raft of new fashion retailers to the city, including All Saints, Monsoon and Jack & Jones.

It is also the biggest shopping centre opening in the UK this year. Marks & Spencer chief executive Stuart Rose and Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman were among the crowd that gathered to watch TV presenter Tess Daly perform the opening ceremony on October 9.

The new centre is the first UK opening for Australian developer Westfield. Although not on the same scale as its planned Westfield London centre at White City in west London, the Derby mall gives the first glimpse of the blueprint that is likely to underpin the company’s other schemes.

Clean, spacious and covered, Westfield Derby has fluid pedestrian flows and “streets”, and is a step up from the white box looks of typical malls. Many of the stores feature double-height glass frontages, helping to create easier access and a more dramatic shopping experience.

With Nottingham city centre and Leicester’s Fosse Park shopping scheme only half-hour bus rides away, and Sheffield’s Meadowhall and Birmingham’s Bullring also viable options for shoppers, there were always plenty of alternatives for shoppers frustrated by Derby’s previously lacklustre fashion offer. But this could soon change.

According to retail analyst CACI, Westfield Derby is expected to pull in sales of £483m a year on clothing, footwear and homewares. CACI’s Retail Footprint ranking, which rates the UK’s retail centres on quality and quantity of their offer, also predicts that Derby will move up eight places to 46th as a result of the new mall.

CACI associate director Daniel Parr says the retail catchment of Derby is dominated by affluent “flourishing families” and “secure families”, in nearby areas such as Littleover, Mickleover and Allestree. He says: “The most affluent groups in the catchment area, which have been shopping in Nottingham, Birmingham and Meadowhall, are likely to flock back to Derby, given the vast improvements to the retail offer.”
Westfield Derby has stamped its mark as the core retailing area of the city. But while the familiar big names are present, the centre also presents an opportunity for several local independents to step up to the big league.

Midlands-based kidswear retailer Ekko offers premium brands including Polo Ralph Lauren and Ted Baker. It already has two shops in Derby, as well as a store in Burton upon Trent. It has relocated from a third Derby city centre store to its first shopping centre store at Westfield Derby.

Owner Arvindar Singh says: “The other Derby city centre store wasn’t the best location for us and the new centre enables us to take a step up. The new centre brings a lot of retailers that weren’t here before.”

Midlands-based young fashion retailer Ministry launched its new look storefit at the mall, the business’s first mall location, and owner Yasar Khan says the centre will transform the city.

“This is what Derby needed. It will make it a much stronger retail city,” says Khan. “Some people may say smaller business in the rest of the city will suffer, but many of them have moved in here and the centre will attract more shoppers to Derby, which will benefit everyone.”
Parr adds: “The shopper demographic in Derby craves variety. More than 100 new brands are arriving, so the city will draw back those visits that have been eroded in the past 10 years.”

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