AUSTRALIAN shopping mall developer Westfield plans to invest some £3bn expanding its presence in Britain, its co-chief executive said yesterday, providing a vote of confidence in the country’s struggling retail sector.
The figure include the expansion of £2bn Westfield London in Shepherd’s Bush, proposals to redevelop Croydon’s Whitgift Centre and the development of the Broadway centre in Bradford.
“They are big numbers, headline numbers, but we have already invested almost £4bn in two major shopping centres in London over the past few years,” Steve Lowy, son of Westfield’s co-founder Frank Lowy, told The Australian newspaper.
“We have plans for further investment in those assets and for other expansion.”
He said Westfield would also continue with its strategy of selling lower- quality assets to focus on more upmarket projects, such as its 21.9m square feet Westfield Stratford site.
Europe’s largest mall, which opened in September, is the main gateway into London’s Olympic Park, with more than 75 per cent of visitors to the Games estimated to be passing through each day.
In 2010, the group sold half of the mall for around £872m to a joint venture between Canadian and Dutch pension funds, securing a development profit of around £300m.
In February, the developer was granted approval to push ahead with the £1bn extension of its White City shopping centre, expected to create an extra 6,700 jobs.
“We believe in London for the long term,” Lowy told The Australian.
“While the UK is still in recession and has been deeply impacted by the global financial crisis in Europe, London in particular has been shown to be a very resilient city, as has Paris [and] the major cities in Germany.”