Footfall has risen sharply across Dover town centre as a whole in the three months since the opening of St James Dover, a brand-new retail and leisure development, owned by Legal & General Investment Management, Real Assets (LGIM RA).
According to Springboard Footfall figures, compiled for Dover District Council, footfall in the town centre, excluding St James, has risen by almost +60 per cent. This figure contrasts the end of January, prior to St James opening, with weekly average data since mid-April. This included a week when footfall surged by +77 per cent compared to the start of 2018.
Alex Mountford, asset manager at LGIM RA, said: “The overriding vision for St James remains to create a catalyst for the regeneration of the town as a whole, attracting more visitors, better brands and greater choice. We’re a long-term investor in Dover with a vested interest in the future prosperity of the town. By attracting people to visit St James Dover, we can encourage them to explore the whole town centre, benefiting everyone.”
In a phased opening, Cineworld was first to open its doors on 09 March, with ten others following including M&S Foodhall, The Food Warehouse by Iceland, Nando’s, Anytime Fitness, Costa Coffee and Travelodge. Next will open in July.
Some 11.7 million passengers travelled through the Port of Dover in 2017, including 200,000 cruise passengers a year making it the UK’s second busiest cruise terminal. Additionally, over 650,000 tourists visit the town each year, especially the world-famous White Cliffs and Dover Castle. The town has a residential catchment of 257,000 and a potential spend of £1.2 billion. Dover District Council has ambitious growth targets with new housing at its core.
Cllr Keith Morris, leader of Dover District Council, said: “These early figures point to a very encouraging start for St James, and underline our premise that the development would attract footfall to the traditional high street. Thanks to St James we have attracted new names to Dover, and ensured that brands looking to expand into larger, more modern premises, have stayed in the town.
“St James is also stimulating new investment in the Old Town, including proposals for the former M&S store on Biggin Street. We continue to press the case with Kent County Council for further improvements to public realm to match the £500,000 committed by Dover District Council for the town centre, and have worked with the Dover Town Team on a £3.1 million bid to the Coastal Communities Fund to revitalise the Market Square.”
The £53.25 million, 157,000 sq ft St James Dover development is located on the A20, the main road leading to the Port of Dover. Top retail brands include anchor stores Next and M&S Foodhall, plus Trespass and Superdrug. It also features a six-screen Cineworld, a 108-bed Travelodge and 24-hours-a-day Anytime Fitness and parking for 445 cars.
Some 90 per cent, by floor area, of the development is now let or in solicitors’ hands, with a further 6,800 sq ft in negotiations. Initial feedback from retailers has been encouraging.
Austin Cook, retail director at Poundland, said: “Since opening in March we’ve had an extremely positive experience at St James Dover. Footfall has been in-line with some of our most popular stores. Our in-store clothing range, PEP&CO has also been extremely well received.”
Tony O’Brien Travelodge property director said: “We have opened our first hotel in Dover, cementing our presence at one the UK’s busiest ports. So far, the hotel is trading well and has got off to a flying start. Looking ahead, business on the books is strong and we’re expecting a very busy 2018 at St James Dover.”
Shaun Jones, VP of operations at Cineworld, said: “We’re so pleased to have opened in the St James development. We’ve had 35,000 customers through our doors since opening in March and our most popular films so far have been Avengers: Infinity War, Peter Rabbit and Deadpool 2.”
A spokesperson at The Food Warehouse by Iceland said: “We are very happy with the progress and start that the store has made at St James Dover. We are also very much looking forward to growing within the area and building a great relationship with the community”.
Joint leasing agents for St James Dover are JLL and HRH. Additionally, JLL has been appointed as retail property manager to handle day-to-day operational matters of the site.