Capital & Regional, the UK’s leading property REIT for delivering community shopping centres, has reinforced its commitment to supporting local communities by investing into dedicated Family Zones across its portfolio. New Family Zones will be a key part of an investment programme underpinning its business plan to create and manage destinations that respond to the immediate needs of the local population and position the centres at the heart of the communities they serve.
Capital & Regional’s wider merchandising strategy brings family-focused areas, retailers and related activities to the heart of its centres and has already culminated in significant progression. The £2million Family Zone at The Exchange Ilford completed in 2018 is designed to create a complete customer journey targeted at local families, including a new dedicated parent parking zone, parent & baby facilities and a free children’s soft-play area. Its introduction contributed to a 1.4% increase in footfall between 2017 and 2018, far outperforming the national average, and the frequency of visit has increased by 25%. Kidz Zone, a family run children’s clothing business, has seen a YTD sales growth of 16% since its relocation last year, as part of the Family Zone improvement plan.
As a result, the shopping centre attracted The Entertainer, the UK’s largest independent toy store, who has signed a 10-year lease to occupy a 3,499sq ft unit [325sq m] within the centre’s Family Zone. A complimentary letting to Costa has also been added to the mix, taking an in-line unit within the Family Zone to increase family dwell time. The store is one of the first to have Costa’s ‘store of the future’ fit-out.
Further commercial uses are currently under negotiation, which will increase the overall offer and are a direct result of the clear investment focus in this area.
Andrew Milner-Walker, head of property at The Entertainer, commented: “We were so impressed to see The Exchange Ilford’s recent refurbishment and the commitment to creating and supporting a dedicated family zone. All this was instrumental in our decision to choose to open at this location. Capital & Regional has already demonstrated that they understand the needs of our shoppers and have gone a long way towards meeting them before we’ve even opened our doors.”
Following Ilford’s success, a new Family Zone will officially open to the public in The Marlowes Hemel Hempstead at the end of this month, following a £1.6million investment by Capital & Regional. The family area will offer a unique experience for the younger guests, catering for 68% of the guests who bring their children when they visit the centre for shopping.
Lawrence Hutchings, CEO, Capital & Regional, commented: “Our investment into vibrant Family Zones aims to create complementary family friendly uses in our shopping centres that aspire to serve the local community in the best way possible. We’re particularly pleased to see the positive changes the family-oriented areas have brought in the Exchange Ilford. The Entertainer’s arrival also demonstrates that our strategy improves the desirability of our centres to retailers and we look forward to delivering similar results in The Marlowes Hemel Hempstead following its family zone opening this month.”
Capital & Regional is the UK’s leading property REIT for delivering community shopping centres tailored to the local community through the creation of dynamic environments. Its eight shopping centres comprise over 900 retail units and attract c. 1.6million shopping visits each week.