The Olympics has put Westfield Stratford on the map for international retailers, with new businesses knocking on the centre’s doors to get in.
Westfield is now in discussions with several brand names from the US and Europe about taking up tenancies.
Director of UK and European operations Bill Giouroukos told Drapers that, as the centre reached its first anniversary, it had emerged from the shadow of sister mall Westfield London.
“There are certain international brand names looking at the UK. In the past it was all about Westfield London, but that’s changed and it’s good,” he said. “There is interest from retailers in the US and Europe and we are continuing discussions in that regard.”
The centre is also in discussions with UK retailers and businesses offering “eclectic new concepts”. However, Westfield Stratford has a relatively high occupancy rate – it opened with 97% – and although a few companies, such as Fashion Rocks, have shut their stores in that time, there is still little free space.
Giouroukos hinted at an expansion in the medium term, comparing it with Westfield London, which recently had a 500,000 sq ft extension approved. “It’s possible, given the way the centre is growing,” he said.
Boosted by the exposure offered by the Olympics, some 47 million people went to the centre in its first year, and in the first six months retailers took £500m.
The centre is now returning to normal, according to Giouroukos, with the car park set to reopen on September 22, and the programme to install canopies outside being picked up again.
Launch tenants spoken to by Drapers applauded the centre’s success, with several saying they had traded above budget despite high rents.
Managing director of Jones Bootmaker Andrew White said Stratford was already its second-biggest store for sales. “We’ve been pretty surprised by the average selling price. It has been a bit higher than at Westfield London,” he said.
Fat Face chief executive Anthony Thompson added: “We obviously factored in the high rents, but we have definitely got a great return on investment. The Olympics has also made people aware of just how accessible Stratford is.”