Newcastle’s Eldon Square shopping centre is to undergo a major refurbishment as part of a nationwide drive by owners intu to broaden the experience offered to visitors. The company is planning to invest £1 billion over the next decade on its portfolio of 15 shopping centres which also includes the Trafford Centre and the Arndale Centre.
The plans for Eldon Square, which will be submitted to Newcastle City Council shortly, will see 20 restaurants open on the site as intu seeks to combine retail with leisure.
Phil Steele of Eldon Square told the Evening Gazette that it’s too early to discuss details about the restaurants but he revealed that the plans also include free wi-fi, which will be operational in the near future, and a new website to enable a click and collect service.
“Our aim is to increase the attractiveness of the whole centre and ensure that Eldon Square never rests on its laurels,” he added.
These proposals are in addition to the current refurbishment which includes the reconstruction and extension of the Northumberland Street entrance and the upgrading of lighting, ceilings and interiors.
Intu’s shopping centres have an occupancy rate of 95 per cent and attract 320 million visitors a year and, according to chief executive David Fischel, they are continuing to trade well despite tough economic conditions. However, like Phil Steele, he is not content to stand still.
“Our view is that for a shopping centre to thrive it needs to trade into the evening, providing the extended shopping hours which customers want and a wider range of catering and entertainment options,” he said.
If the plans for Eldon Square are approved work is expected to begin in the first half of 2014.
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