First they headed west. For London’s debut mega-mall, which opened in 2008, White City, on the doorstep of the affluent Notting Hill and Holland Park, was an obvious choice of location for retail giant Westfield’s property developers.
It was a shrewd second move to look east. Next door to the Olympics Park, the regenerated Stratford was chosen for Westfield’s second giant London shopping complex. It opened last September and has generated more than £500m in sales.
Now the retail giant has unveiled plans to build its third shopping mall in the capital – in Croydon, south London.
Westfield promises a £1bn redevelopment of the Whitgift shopping centre, which would offer 1.5 million sq ft (0.46 million sq m) of retail space, a multi-screen cinema, a bowling alley and a multitude of restaurants.
An alternative scheme by retail developers Hammerson, which already owns the neighbouring Centrale shopping centre, is expected to be unveiled later this month.
But why Croydon? With department store Allders, whose flagship store has been the town since 1862, announcing it had gone into administration last month, surely the town’s success as a shopping destination is not guaranteed?
In another blow to the town’s confidence, in January, confectionery giant Nestle announced it was moving its UK headquarters and 840 jobs from Croydon to West Sussex after more than 40 years.