Westfield Stratford City opens in East London

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Westfield Stratford City opens in East London

The Westfield Group (ASX: WDC) today launched its most iconic and ambitious project to date in East London. The £1.8 billion Westfield Stratford City retail project will be the gateway to the London 2012 Olympic Park and is the largest urban shopping centre in Europe. This landmark 1.9 million square feet development marks the next chapter in retail and leisure development in the United Kingdom, serving a catchment area of over 4 million people.

Westfield Stratford City is to be officially opened today by the Mayor of London, Mr. Boris Johnson, together with Westfield Group Chairman, Mr. Frank Lowy AC.

Mr. Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport will address a VIP reception following the launch and global rock star Nicole Scherzinger will entertain the opening day guests.

The retail development will be owned in a partnership between Westfield, who will own 50%, and APG of the Netherlands and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board jointly owning the other 50%.

Westfield Stratford City is anchored by flagship John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose stores, a 17-screen Vue cinema, and the UK’s largest casino operated by Aspers. With 250 shops plus 70 places to dine, it will create a new lifestyle destination for East London. Stratford City also includes three hotels and 130,000 square feet of office space which is the first phase of a total of 1.1 million square feet office precinct and 1,200 residential dwellings which are expected to be developed after the 2012 Olympic Games.

As part of one of the largest urban regeneration projects ever undertaken in the UK, Westfield Stratford City is located on the doorstep to the Olympic Park and three quarters of all spectators are expected to walk directly through the centre on their way from the transport hubs to the Park.

The Chairman of Westfield Group said: “We are immensely proud of this world-class shopping centre which is the culmination of over 50 years’ experience and firmly cements our position in the UK market which we entered just over 10 years ago. The project has been delivered on time, on budget and over 95% leased at opening.”

Jeremy Hunt said: “This is a hugely significant day for East London. Europe’s biggest urban shopping centre opening beside the Olympic Park is a massive vote of confidence in the area and proof of the powerful effect London 2012 is having on this part of the city. It will be a fabulous showcase for some of the best British retail businesses and brands, especially during the Games. And as a significant new local employer it is a fundamental part of the lasting legacy of London’s Games.”

Boris Johnson said: “Westfield Stratford City has already played, and will continue to play, a crucial role in the remarkable regeneration of East London. Thousands of jobs for Londoners, millions in investment and one of the best shopping destinations in the world are a fantastic legacy which has been delivered years earlier than would have been possible without the 2012 Games. The Westfield Group has helped secure a bright future for this long-neglected corner of the capital.”

Co-CEO of Westfield Group Steven Lowy AM said: “Westfield Stratford City represents the latest evolution of our thinking and skills in design, retail and leisure mix, technology and sustainability. We have been delighted with the performance of Westfield London in the 3 years since opening and that centre is expected to shortly reach £1 billion in annual retail sales. We would expect that in time, our two London centres will be the 2 top performing urban centres in Europe, have retail sales of over £2 billion, attract over 50 million consumer visits per annum and create over 25,000 permanent jobs in London.

“We hope to build on our learnings and relationships from our recent iconic projects at Sydney, San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and take these forward into many more of the world’s great cities, a process we have already begun with our recent announcements in Milan, New York World Trade Centre and Brazil.”

Mr. Michael Gutman, Westfield Group Managing Director UK/Europe and New Markets said: “The retail and leisure mix that our team has delivered at Westfield Stratford City has exceeded all our expectations particularly as it was delivered through the global financial crisis and was clearly assisted by the strong focus on London by many international brands from the US and elsewhere.

“The range of large global specialty stores is the most extensive to date on a Westfield project and includes: from the US; Apple, Forever 21, GAP, Hollister, Gilly Hicks and Urban Outfitters, from the UK; All Saints, Boots, Monsoon, New Look, Primark, River Island, Superdry and Topshop, and from Europe; Cos, H+M, Hugo Boss, Prada, The Sting, and Zara.”

Public transport connectivity to the centre is unparalleled with a new station entrance hall for Stratford Regional station, one of London’s busiest transport hubs, built directly underneath the centre with direct connection to the London network. The centre has direct access into Stratford International station and has parking spaces for 5,000 cars.

The centre incorporates the latest evolution of Westfield’s focus on enhancing the consumer experience by the use of technology, including advanced car park payment and guidance system, find your car service, digital media streaming and new spectacular screen formats, free wi-fi throughout and the latest in mobile applications for retailers and consumers.

The centre is also setting new benchmarks in sustainability with its own Combined Cooling and Heating Power Plant on site which will generate 75% of the centre’s energy. Westfield has worked with the London Borough of Newham to create the Skills Place – Newham, a permanent retail academy training local people for a career in retail helping to lower unemployment levels in the borough. At least 2,000 of the 10,000 permanent jobs created today have gone to the local unemployed.

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