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Westfield visitor numbers exceed targets

Westfield London has attracted 23 million shoppers – 15% up on expectations – in the year since it opened.

More than a third of visitors to the centre, which celebrates its first anniversary this week, came from outside its planned catchment area, including tourists from China, Russia and the Middle East.

Tim Whitworth, chief executive of branded young fashion chain Republic, said his store had attracted nearly 100,000 customers in its first year. He said the store had been a “huge success, enabling us to establish Republic as a destination store in the capital”.

The centre is anchored by House of Fraser, Debenhams, Marks & Spencer and Next. House of Fraser chief executive John King said his company’s store performed above plan. The upscale Luxury Village, which attracted some scepticism initially, has performed well for the established brands located in it, with Louis Vuitton senior vice president Philippe Schaus saying that the store had “surpassed all expectations”.

However, some smaller fashion retailers coming into the UK have found the going tougher. “The retail environment has been tough, but the known [retail] brands have performed extremely well,” Westfield UK managing director Michael Gutman said. “[Retail] Brands new to the UK have to establish themselves, but we wanted to get away from creating a clone town, with a mix of luxury, high street, teens and youth.”

Westfield has started work on a larger scheme next to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London, to open in 2011. At 1.9 million sq ft it will be the largest urban shopping centre in Europe.

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