Westfield: The flag bearer for team retail

In the build up to the globe's largest sporting event, London's retailers are preparing for the world's fans to descend. Only one has the honour of being the official partner of the 2012 Olympic Games though
 Westfield: The flag bearer for team retail

As flagship stores go, no expense has been spared on behalf of London’s newest and grandest shopping centre.

In the heart of Stratford and the Olympic Village, Westfield stands out with its overpowering glass structure, commercial branding, and picturesque surroundings as part of the overall precinct.

Once stepping inside, the overwhelming grandeur of this megastore really comes to the fore though, and on behalf of the 243 stores, numerous restaurants, groundbreaking personal services, technological systems, leisure activities and community schemes, London 2012 has named this colossus of British retail an official partner of the upcoming Olympic Games.

Open seven days a week, the store is already having a massive knock on effect on London’s economy, and that is before a single javelin has been thrown, arrow has been shot or ball has been kicked. The extreme numbers of people flocking to Stratford, in search of the country’s third largest retail centre, has immediately had an impact on the capital city’s travel sector.

Whether it is fashion, electricals, merchandise, groceries, gifts, children’s stores, or health and beauty products, the Centre has it all covered. Westfield Stratford City even includes its own GB Olympics and Paralympics store to get visitors in the right mood for the Games, as well as giving something back to its partners. Overall sales from the London 2012 merchandise programme are expected to raise more than £80 million towards the staging of the event.

As if the shops and restaurants were not enough to satisfy a shopper’s needs during a period in which the main objective is to view sporting prowess, Westfield also gives people the opportunity to get a little bit active themselves. All Star Lanes bowling alley will be popular in keeping the youngsters happy and occupied too, and that is only if the Vue cinema does not take their fancy. For adults looking for a break away from their hyper children, it is very possible they will be found on the third floor, having a little flutter in the Aspers casino. 

To stand out even further, Westfield has also vowed to capitalise on the latest technological advancements to make the visiting experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. This is typified by the Westfield Stratford City App, available via iTunes, the App Store or the Android Market. These services keep shoppers abreast of all the options available to them and keep in with the futuristic feel amongst the 1.9 million square feet of space. The App includes a route finder, store directory, lists of promotions and offers, job vacancies and transport updates.

Free Wi-Fi is also available within the confounds, as well as play rooms for young children, faith and worship areas set aside for prayer, and even a specific Westfield Gift Card to suit regular visitors.

“You can certainly start to feel the excitement across the whole of London. LOCOG are doing a lot to promote the games and the other activities going on around them.” These the words of General Marketing Manager, Myf Ryan who has overseen the developments across many Westfield stores in recent years, and is especially excited for the future of Westfield Stratford City.

“We’ve worked very closely with LOCOG and other Olympic partners to bring to life the excitement and make sure when people come to Stratford, there’s a brilliant shopping centre with 250 stores, and 70 places to eat and drink

“The whole of east London is getting a focus that it never had before with the Olympic Games coming to Stratford. One of the greatest benefits will be for the entire regeneration of the East London area.”

The reverberations expected within the East London region is a vital aspect of Westfield’s legacy, as well as the responsibilities of the store in the aftermath of the Games, as Ryan is keen to point out.

“I think what we’ve done, first with Westfield London in 2008, and Westfield Stratford City last year is given the residents and visitors to East London an iconic stopping destination.

“We’re working very closely with the London Legacy Development Corporation which ensures there is continued growth and employment in this area too. There’s a further 6000 jobs on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and more across the international quarter and athletes village.

“We’re proud that at opening we had more than 2000 previously unemployed people who were recruited to work at the centre. 46 percent of those roles went to young people aged between 16 and 24,” she explained.

With less than two months to wait until the curtain rises on the largest ever event to grace England’s capital city, its flagship store is already in full swing. The legacy that it will leave will extend far beyond its sporting counterparts, and as Managing Director, Michael Gutman explains on the company’s website, Westfield is just as excited about the affiliation as the rest of the nation.

 “We are delighted to be extending our relationship with LOCOG in our sponsorship of London 2012. Westfield will enhance the whole London 2012 experience in the period leading up to and during the Games and it is a fantastic way to get our customers and staff across the UK involved in the biggest event the UK has ever seen.” 

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