Art exhibitions, markets, street food and music are under discussion for the future of the Mall as it becomes a ‘third generation’ shopping centre.
Asset managers Moorgarth revealed to members of Thames Valley Propertys First Tuesday Club on May 10th, their thoughts on the 45-year-old centre’s future direction.
The Mall owners were guests of event sponsor and Thames Valley Property supporter, Hicks Baker.
Moorgarth Chief Executive Tim Vaughan told guests at the networking lunch for construction industry professionals at Green Park: “What we are learning is we have to address a rapidly changing retail world, something we all have to put up with. We need to make sure there is a consistent flow of people coming through the door.”
He said a £2 million refurbishment was being carried out to modernise the centre internally, with new ceilings, lighting and floors as well as external signage, branding and general cleaning and maintenance to attract the emerging and exciting retail concepts.
He said: “We don’t really do a lot for the 18 – 45s. There’s a lot for younger ones and for older ones but that is a huge sector of the market we can target.”
He said it would be foolish to try to compete with The Oracle but opportunities were presented by the towns many students and the food and beverage market.
“We’ve got to start to make a trip to our Mall an occasion, an enjoyable and memorable experience,” he said, but warned it wasn’t a case of simply adding restaurants.
He said: “We are looking at food and beverage but it doesn’t work on its own. ‘Eclectic’ is an overused word these days but it explains what we need to do to get those customers into the centre.
“It will continue as an unashamed value centre but nowadays every customer is aspirational, so we are broadening its offer and appeal to as much wider and diverse audience. We want to include independent retailers. The people who are selling on the internet at the moment. We are looking at how we can introduce a physical concept for them, where they can flourish next to their peers.
“We are looking at art exhibitions, music events. There are about 30 events a year but this needs to be raised.”
The type of food was likely to be along the lines of ‘grab and go’ such as street food. But there needed to be something more.