Westfield has attempted to allay retailers’ fears about rising service charges at its upcoming Stratford development in east London.
The landlord’s director of operations Bill Giouroukos told Retail Week that, because Westfield has been in total control of Stratford City from the beginning of development – unlike Westfield London, where the company took over midway through – it would be able to better estimate charges.
Speaking at global property conference Mapic last week, Giouroukos said Westfield had “totally controlled” the project and has learned a lot from Westfield London, which has now been open a year.
He hoped to “give certainty for retailers” considering taking a store in what will be Europe’s largest urban shopping centre when the scheme completes in 2011.
In June, the Australian property developer was forced to reduce service charges at Westfield London after disgruntled retailers campaigned against the rates, which were unexpectedly raised after terms were first agreed.
“We’ve done a lot of work to cut costs and have communicated a lot with retailers – it’s been a big focus in the last year,” said Giouroukos. He admitted that a lot of retailers had asked Westfield about service charges at Stratford, but that the issue was “not stopping negotiations”.
Giouroukos said that, despite the recession, trade at Westfield London has been “terrific”, and many of the larger retailers’ stores rank in the top quartile of their portfolio.