All change for Square Mile shopaholics

Marion Dakers
SHOPPING centre One New Change opens its doors to customers on Thursday, though up to 30 per cent of the shops will not be ready for the launch.

Several people close to the development have said between 70 and 90 per cent of retailers will open on Thursday, with the rest aiming to complete their shop fit-outs shortly afterwards.

Brands including Gap Kids and Eat will not be open in time for the ribbon-cutting ceremony later this week.

“The main brands, including Top Shop, H&M, Superdry and Marks & Spencer will be opening on Thursday, and the whole thing will effectively be open by December,” said David Kenningham, executive director at letting agent CB Richard Ellis.

Westfield, the last central London shopping centre to open, managed to launch with around 85 per cent of its shops open for business in 2008.

Project developer Land Securities has recently signed an unnamed restaurateur to run the café and restaurant on the roof terrace, which is due to open to the public on 18 November.

Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant inside the mall will open next year.

The centre will be open seven days a week, with virtually all shops trading during the weekend. “We don’t have a target for footfall during the weekends, but I think retailers will be surprised at how much trade they get,” said Kenningham. “Weekend trading will slowly build up, from both tourists and Londoners.”

The Land Securities logo will be popping up all over the City in the coming months, as several ambitious construction projects across the Square Mile commence.

The FTSE 100 company, which is the UK’s largest real estate investment trust, said earlier this month its long-awaited Walkie Talkie project is back on the agenda. The 36-storey skyscraper was shelved during the credit crisis, but the company has now teamed up with Canary Wharf Group to build the distinctive top-heavy building at 20 Fenchurch Street.

Construction is scheduled to begin in January (a bold move, since the joint venture has not yet secured any pre-let tenants) and is set to open in 2014.

Land Securities is also preparing to refurbish its 75,000 square foot office building at 110 Cannon Street, which will be left empty when current tenant K&L Gates completes its move into a new office at One New Change next year.

Meanwhile, the company has hired architect Fletcher Priest to help overhaul 50 Ludgate Hill, a glass-fronted tower currently let to the Crown Prosecution Service. The company aims to submit planning permission in 2011.

Land Securities also plans to renovate 76 Shoe Lane, a retail and office block that, according to the company’s website, was once used in an episode of Doctor Who.

On top of these construction projects, there is the small matter of the 9.7m square feet of office space across London that Land Securities lets and manages.

The company is nominated for Property Firm of the Year at the first City A.M. awards, which will be announced on Thursday. Also nominated are British Land, Heron, Sellar Property and CB Richard Ellis.