Bluewater plans leisure expansion to boost store footfall
As UK malls and retail parks race to increase their leisure options, one of the biggest - Bluewater in Kent - has confirmed that it will add four new cinema screens (including an XPlus monster screen) and three new restaurants to its mix. All of its cinemas will also have electric reclining seats and it will also add new leisure concepts.
British malls and retail parks are facing an unprecedented drop in footfall as shoppers browse and buy online and are seeking to offer extras to lure in consumers.
Bluewater owner Land Securities said it is talking to companies about several innovative leisure concepts that will fit into two new leisure spaces it is creating to add to Bluewater’s appeal as a ‘day-out’ destination rather than just a shopping mall.
The company said work on the cinema and restaurant expansion has already begun and will be complete by the end of the year.
Land Securities portfolio director Russell Loveland said: “Evolving Bluewater’s offer to provide a day-out experience for guests unavailable elsewhere in the south east is our priority. [This] means we will continue to offer something different on every visit.”
Bluewater opened in 1999 at the dawn of the internet age and before online shopping really got underway. Its focus on fashion stores was a major plus back then, but with shopping malls being the biggest sufferers from the decline in footfall of the past couple of years, there is a major need to shake up the tenant mix.
Rival malls have seen the same impact and have reacted. Westfield’s original London centre has Kidzania, an innovative family-focused experience, while the recently opened Victoria Gate in Leeds comes along with one of the biggest casinos-cum-entertainment centres in Britain.
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