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Hit or Miss - Bluewater

Ian Wright

Bluewater has had a bit of a rough ride recently.

Once a destination shopping centre, a shiny gem found in an excavated quarry in Kent, its more recent history has been a bit rocky as big retailers have come and gone and the mix of premium and value avenues has made for a slightly schizophrenic personality.

To compound this the centre has also had the threat of Westfield Stratford appearing on the horizon, drawing crowds over the river and away from its catchment area. Historically, Bluewater had always been perceived to be the most upmarket centre for miles (Lakeside in Thurrock operated a little in its shadow after Bluewater opened over the QE2 Bridge in 1999) but the arrival of Westfield out east stole its thunder somewhat last September.

When Drapers visited to see what it had in store for the men, it was clear there has been a bit of a spruce up, with new, more mid-market eating establishments complementing some of the recent retailing arrivals. Some, like Uniqlo and Ted Baker, have recognised the potential of the centre by opening new stores or moving to bigger units, and it was this feeling of a fresh start that sat nicely with the largely up-to-speed menswear ranges on show during this visit. Bluewater may be dominated by the three huge Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and House of Fraser marquee stores at each corner, but it was mostly in-between those big units where the more interesting stories lay. All in all the centre comes across as a diamond in the rough - come take a look as we unearth the gems its menswear stores have to offer right now.

Stores visited on March 29 to 30, and April 2. View the full report here.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Just another mall with the same facias. Who cares? The independent high street, now that's something worthy of a discussion.

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  • I remember being totally wowed with it when we first saw it from the car (as you can't really get there any other way unless you have hours to spend on buses) a white snow palace made for a sci fi film. The free parking, the fountains and ponds, it all seemed so luxe.
    The shops also seemed more chi chi back then but now it's just another mall with that awful smell of fast food in the strip that goes past the most hideous fast food section.
    It's not so white now either.
    Having said that, after my visit to Stratford I would choose Bluewater over it if I wanted a chain store fest shop and it takes me about the same travelling time to either. In fact Westfields junk food section was way more horrendous and whiffy.

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