Havering shopkeepers challenged by Westfield
As Westfield Stratford City opened to queues waiting to get into the �1.4billion shopping complex, Havering businesses were told they will have to work harder to beat the competition.
Keith Brown, development manager for the Essex Federation of Small Businesses, argued that shops will have to step up to prevent them from losing trade.
He said: “The opening of Westfield is a big challenge to retailers and it is important that they work to meet that challenge.
“It is essential that Havering Council, the business organisations and retailers all work together to make shopping in Romford, Hornchurch and Upminster as attractive as possible for as many people as possible to reduce the number who choose to travel to Stratford.”
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His comments came as Westfield – which has been hailed as Europe’s largest urban shopping centre – opened on Tuesday.
But Mr Brown also argues that after the initial impact of the new shopping centre opening, shoppers will remain loyal to their old retailers.
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He said: “I expect that after the initial interest dies down that we will see local shoppers staying with their local stores, but there are no grounds for complacency.
“Shop owners and managers need to ensure they are stocking the right goods at the right place and that their staff are giving excellent customer service. The council needs to ensure that the road network and car parks are easy and convenient to use so Havering’s shopping centres are attractive to local shoppers from east London and west Essex.”
Centre director of Romford’s Brewery Shopping Centre, Ruby Charalambous, said that she remained confident about the future. She said: “The Brewery is working in partnership with other businesses in the town to support its continued growth and development and the opening of Westfield is a positive step in the wider regeneration of east London.”