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25 ANNIVERSARY Combining leisure with retail is increasingly the future for the industry, finds Sean Kelly

The Fusion Factor

out atop the centre’s circular, sloped glass atrium with nothing else but air between him and the ground some 90 feet below. Phillips, a director for O2 developer Burford, was nearing the


conclusion of a three-year long project to create the 27,222-sq m (293,025-sq ft) centre. And not just another retail centre but a lifestyle- lead development. “It certainly gave me another perspective,” recalls Phillips who stood atop the glass for a PR photoshoot and lived to tell about it – he’s still part of the management team at Burford today. “The location was a landmark but the concept we were developing

was also landmark. Nick Leslau (Burford’s then chief executive) wanted to take the customer experience in a whole new direction. O2 was to be a lifestyle-led destination with 10 restaurant and bar café units along with a (then) Warner Bros multiplex and an Esporta health & fitness centre and what would also be London’s largest Sainsbury’s store. It was at the vanguard of a new generation of lifestyle driven schemes that could trade in urban locations.” The rise of leisure and lifestyle as an integral part of an enhanced

offer was fully recognised by Shopping Centre magazine in its headlined feature “Leisure Needs Retail Needs Leisure” in 2001. And, to a certain extent that continues to be the nature of the relationship today. By 1991 when Shopping Centre launched, food courts had long

been factored into the destination designscape. However the addition of other leisure was only truly coming to the fore with cinemas, bowling alleys, art galleries, performance areas, and sports/gym facilities getting a look-in as the concept of leisure as a part of the retail mix truly took hold. It evolved and even resulted in leisure-focused operations such as X-Leisure’s lifestyle holdings introducing ski slopes, air parks, climbing walls and indoor sky diving in its Xscape and SNOzone centres. Now leisure and lifestyle seems all-pervasive – the recent opening of Westfield Stratford City includes not only a now ubiquitous food

ate in the summer in 1999 Duncan Phillips found himself standing not just in, but on top of the O2 Centre on Finchley Road in London NW3. And not just standing up on the roof but

offer but a 17- screen Vue (the largest in Europe), 14-lane All Star Lanes bowling alley and a 65,000-sq ft Aspers casino (both the largest in the country for each brand). The casino, due to open in December 2011, will be Aspers’ fourth site in the UK. The leisure element in retailing has been championed by a number

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

October 2006

Glasgow’s St Enoch Centre. a £100m revamp at

underway for

Plans were

Capital & Counties snapped up London’s Covent Garden Market and surrounding properties for £421m.

Liberty International’s

the Liberty shopping centre to Cosgrave Property Group for £281m.

Hammerson sold

co-founder and deputy chairman David Ross took a 50 per cent stake in Plymouth’s Drake Circus. October 2011 SHOPPING CENTRE

Carphone Warehouse

20 YEARS Leading the industry for

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