Loud crowds but quiet tills at £1.7bn mall
THOUSANDS of people flocked to the opening of a £1.7billion shopping mall yesterday – but few wanted to part with their money.
With Britain sliding into recession, it wasn’t the best time for the 43-acre Westfield to open in Shepherd’s Bush, London.
But mayor Boris Johnson told crowds: “There are people with piles of money out there.”
The gleaming central atrium of Europe’s biggest city centre mall was packed as X Factor star Leona Lewis performed at the opening ceremony.
One, PR executive Ramia Malouf, said: “I’ve come to see what all the fuss is about but I won’t be spending much, as my bills are much higher these days.”
And Charly Harrison, 23, said: “I think the centre puts people in a better mood and cheers them up. You don’t actually have to come to spend, you can come to admire and have a drink with friends.”
Simon Holberton, a director of Australian developers The Westfield Group, which hopes to attract 60,000 shoppers a day, said: “We feel very optimistic about the future.
“We have lived through many economic cycles in our 50 years and this is another one.”
The mall houses 280 stores under its distinctive wavy roof, from High Street giants including Marks and Spencer and House of Fraser, to luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Prada.