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Family zones attract customers and retailers to shopping centres

Shopping centre group Capital & Regional says that its investment in installing dedicated Family Zones across its portfolio of sites is helping it to attract new retail tenants.

The strategy see the company bring family-focused areas, retailers and activities together in the heart of its centres. It says that the £2m Family Zone at The Exchange Ilford, completed in 2018, contributed to a 1.4 per cent increase in footfall. It includes a dedicated parent parking zone, parent and baby facilities, and a free soft play area. Frequency of visit has increased by 25 per cent since it opened, according to Capital & Regional.

Toy retailer The Entertainer has opened a store in the centre as a result, signing a ten year lease on a 325 sq m (3,499 sq ft) store which began trading last week.

“We were so impressed to see The Exchange Ilford’s recent refurbishment and the commitment to creating and supporting a dedicated family zone. All this was instrumental in our decision to choose to open at this location. Capital & Regional has already demonstrated that they understand the needs of our shoppers and have gone a long way towards meeting them before we’ve even opened our doors,” says Andrew Milner-Walker, Head of Property at The Entertainer.

Capital & Regional is now preparing to open a new £1.6m Family Zone at The Marlowes Hemel Hempstead. It says that 68 per cent of its visitors bring their children when they go shopping.

Capital & Regional CEO Lawrence Hutchings adds: “Our investment into vibrant Family Zones aims to create complementary family-friendly uses in our shopping centres that aspire to serve the local community in the best way possible. We’re particularly pleased to see the positive changes the family-oriented areas have brought in the Exchange Ilford. The Entertainer’s arrival also demonstrates that our strategy improves the desirability of our centres to retailers and we look forward to delivering similar results in The Marlowes Hemel Hempstead following its family zone opening this month.”