Ikea sister company Ingka Centres is considering a new food hall pilot it debuted in San Francisco in its plans for a Brighton shopping centre, Retail Week can reveal.

Ikea Saluhall second floor

The Soluhall concept in San Francisco is described by Ingka Centres as a ‘food culture hub’

Saluhall, the new food hall concept that opened this week on San Francisco’s Market Street, comprises a blend of local independent restaurants and in-house vendors, as well as a cookery school offering classes and demonstrations. 

The pilot has provided food for thought for operator Ingka Centres, which told Retail Week the concept was on the table for Brighton’s Churchill Square Shopping Centre, which it purchased last year. 

“One of the things we said from the beginning is there’s a lot of potential to update and refresh the food offer,” said Ingka Centres managing director Cindy Andersen. 

“We are so excited both about the location of Churchill Square and also, of course, about the opening of Ikea within the – hopefully – not too distant future. It’s a very iconic shopping centre in Brighton and it has a very natural visitation, there are lots of people living and working in Brighton who come there. It has a history, significance and a very strong retail offer. We are very curious as to what we can offer and develop in Brighton.”

The Soluhall concept in San Francisco is described by the group as a “food culture hub” and currently features “plant-forward” fare from some of the city’s best-loved restaurants, as well as an in-house bakery called Smörgåsland, which was developed for the centre by Danish chef Claus Meyer.

“We have known for years how important food is for the business and the importance of food to drive visitation, create engagement and plans for coming together,” said Andersen. 

“It’s not going to be less important in the future. This concept was not just something we did for San Francisco, it’s something we’re able to also scale to other locations in different forms or shapes.”

Churchill Square is the primary shopping centre in Brighton, located on the main shopping high street next to the seafront. Resident retailers in the centre include InditexAppleNext and H&M

There is no opening date for the Ikea at the centre as yet but Retail Week understands it will be after the Oxford Street branch, which is expected to open in autumn 2024

Other plans for the centre include “adapting the retail offer to community needs” as well as investing in infrastructure with improvements such as increased electric vehicle charging points in the works.