Olympics boom sees 5.5m flock to Stratford City

Kasmira Jefford
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STRATFORD City, Europe’s biggest shopping mall, attracted 5.5m visitors during the Olympic Games, its Australian developer Westfield said as it reported a 31 per cent increase in its first-half profits.

Stratford’s bustling shops contrast with retailers in west London that lamented a lack of visitors, particularly in the first week of the Games, after warnings about traffic kept people away.

The company, which owns 119 shopping centres in Australia, the US, New Zealand and the UK, reported a net profit of A$800.1m (£534m) in the six months to the end of June.

Funds from operations — a measure of earnings that strips out fluctuations from property revaluations — rose 3.1 per cent to A$751.2m, boosted by a strong rise in income from its US and Australian malls.

The group said income from its five UK centres was “steady”, with over 99 per cent of its portfolio leased despite the tough retail environment and high number of shop failures this year.

It expects its two London centres – Stratford City and Westfield London in Shepherd’s Bush – to attract a total of 60m customer visits spending an estimated £1.8bn this year.

Steve Lowey, Westfield’s co-chief executive, said its strong performance in the half year was a result of its change in strategy in 2010, when it decided to focus on the development of large urban sites to generate higher returns.

It sold its Nottingham shopping mall Broadmarsh last year as part of its change in strategy and is currently vying with Anglo-French rival Hammerson to redevelop the 1960s Whitgift centre in Croydon.