Shopping centre to create a £7m Oasis of dining
The new development by joint owners British Land and London & Stamford Property will increase the upper level space by about 27 per cent, including a new mezzanine level and two additional new restaurants.
The area, which will have a new entrance, will also have a new logo and the area will be reconfigured to improve the flow of customers. The huge video wall at the far end of the food court is to be taken down.
Sixty eight per cent of Meadowhall visitors currently visit the Oasis Food Court but it is hoped that the new quarter will attract more customers.
Darren Pearce, centre director, said: “Listening to our customers, we want to create a place that suits their many tastes, and providing a range of all day and evening destination eating options. The new Oasis Dining Quarter will offer a more contemporary look, and a relaxed, calming environment with a lower music volume – a haven from the bustle of the shopping malls.
“We know that two out of three of our shoppers visit the Oasis so it’s important for us to keep this area up to date and in line with customers’ expectations.
“Whether shoppers desire a lively or quieter eating experience the Oasis Dining Quarter will offer something for every taste and occasion.
“The redevelopment will last approximately six months but it will be business as usual during this period.”
Peter Bellhouse, head of design and development (Meadowhall) for British Land, said: “This is the most ambitious plan we’ve had in terms of changing the atmosphere and bringing it up to date.”
The new Oasis Dining Quarter, which is expected to open in October, will feature existing businesses such as Chilango’s, Handmade Burger Co, Zizzis’ and Coal, and the recent new additions of Wagamama, TGI Friday and Cafe Rouge, plus further new names to be announced soon, increasing the total number of eating choices to 27.
The MacDonalds outlet in Meadowhall is the second best-performing in the country in terms of sales. Meadowhall has added up to 30 brands, including LK Bennett, Reiss and Phase Eight, to its retail portfolio in the last 18 months and is boosting its food area to complement the offering.
Richard Pinfold, marketing director, said: “We want to match high-end retail with high-end dining. Meadowhall’s food and drink sector has seen double-digit growth and by making this investment we can only anticipate further growth.”
It is hoped that the new dining quarter will boost Meadowhall’s under-developed night-time economy. Thirty four per cent of customers currently visit the centre after 5pm but Meadowhall plans to boost this to 50 per cent.
“If you look at the Trafford Centre, they have a far greater catering proposition and build on the evening trade,” Mr Pinfold said.
Meadowhall is also looking at extending its opening hours, something that has to be approved by its retailers. “It gives us the opportunity to make sure our product and market share is as strong as it could be,” said Mr Pinfold.
He added: “Economic challenges will remain. We know that the competition will eventually grow with the likes of Trinity Leeds and Sevenstone in Sheffield so we see this as the time to build a stronger position for ourselves.
“Research shows that the consumer demands the best brands so we need to be focused on getting the brands that people want to see. Consumer expectations are higher than ever.”
Michael Schorah, managing director of the Harris Partnership, who is the appointed architect for the build, said: “Our aim was to create a clean fresh image, utilising natural and sustainable materials so we have used cedar wood and real wood flooring creating a timeless pallet that can evolve with current trends.
“It was important to break down this large space into more intimate and informal areas whilst maintaining visibility and future flexibility for the restaurant tenants. We have been focused on delivering a calm environment where diners can grab a bite to eat and enjoy some time out from their retail therapy.”
Project will create new jobs
Meadowhall is owned by British Land and London & Stamford Property.
The original Oasis Food Court, built in 1990, was originally themed on Orange Square in Marbella and was refurbished in 2002.
The new Oasis Dining Quarter will provide three additional places to eat and around 80 additional jobs.
Meadowhall, which employs 7,000 retail staff at peak times, is ranked by Experian as second to Bluewater in the UK’s hierarchy of super regional shopping centres.
The current asset value of the shopping centre is £1.271bn.
There are 280 retailers in the centre and an 11-screen cinema within 1.5m sq ft of retail floor space.
Retailers include Superdry, Links of London, Hobbs, Karen Millen, Hollister and Reiss.
Meadowhall has an annual footfall of 25 million and an annual spend of £756m (from a total catchment spend of £11.7bn).
Over three quarters of Meadowhall’s customers are female.
The shopping centre has 12,000 free car parking spaces and 78 per cent of customers travel to the centre by car. The percentage of customers who travel by public transport is 18 per cent.
There are 300 trains and 88 trams a day plus 100 buses an hour stopping at the centre.