Europe’s largest Japanese Food Hall – Ichiba – will open at Westfield London as part of the centre’s £600 million expansion, it was revealed today.
The 17,400sq ft flagship store will feature food stations dedicated to freshly prepared and cooked food. The main food hall will offer a large range of Japanese staples and kitchen essentials, from rice, miso and soy sauce, to a wide selection of sake, rice crackers, and confectionery, alongside books and handpicked ceramics from the leading craft prefectures.
An enhanced dining offer is a key focus of the 740,000sq ft expansion of Westfield London which, on launch in March 2018, will make the centre the largest in Europe, almost 10 years after its doors first opened. The expansion has been designed to consolidate the centre’s position as the go-to destination for not only fashion but food, leisure and entertainment.
Keith Mabbett, director of leasing, Westfield UK and Europe, said: “We’re are thrilled to announce Europe’s largest Japanese food hall will be opening at Westfield London as part of our expansion plans. As well as welcoming more fashion and home retailers to our expansion, innovation in Dining and Leisure will be a key feature of the new Westfield London, in line with our global approach across our flagship centres. Ichiba is a fantastic concept that will offer our visitors the opportunity to dine, shop and experience Japanese cuisine and culture with an element of theatre – and we know it will be hugely popular.”
Ichiba is the first joint venture between the Japan Centre Group and Cool Japan Fund, which helps support businesses to promote Japanese food and culture overseas. The fund’s partnerships with local and artisan suppliers across Japan will allow Ichiba to offer authentic products and rare regional produce from some of the best producers and farmers exclusively to the UK.
Other partners include Gekkeikan sake and Kikkoman who will be able to offer shoppers a unique opportunity to sample and try new products while gaining advice and confidence to cook Japanese ingredients at home.
In-store experiences are also a key part of the new format concept. Theatrical kitchens will be set around seating for over 200 covers with a changing schedule of weekly cooking demonstrations and workshops, events, regional food and drink festivals and sake tasting seminars.
Tak Tokumine, CEO of Japan Centre, added: “I’m delighted to announce this new concept for people to experience Japanese food culture at Westfield London. Ichiba will be a dynamic and inspiring addition to the expanded centre and retail landscape in the Capital.”
Ichiba will offer a contemporary twist on traditional Japanese elements with in-store surroundings to support the quality of the food. Japanese style paper structures, flags and traditional fabrics will break up the space, while lights inspired by chopsticks, lanterns and traditional wooden elements will help customers navigate the zones of the store. Food stations will offer everything from katsu curries to sushi and sashimi and authentic street food including takoyaki, tempura and noodles made fresh to order.
There will also be a traditional Japanese bakery and café serving items such as dorayaki pancakes with teas including hot or iced matcha lattes. Alongside, this there will be a dedicated kaku-uchi sake bar, serving hot sake and regional artisan sake handpicked by the in store sake sommelier and a noodle bar where visitors can sample freshly prepared noodles and tonkotsu ramen.
The expansion of Westfield London will bring the total gross leasable area (GLA) to 2.6 million sq. ft. and the number of stores across fashion, leisure and entertainment to 450. Further major retailer announcements will be made imminently, Mabbett confirmed.