Westfield chief confident mall will cope with Games crowds
It is Europe’s largest shopping centre and for six weeks this summer people from all over the world will be passing through it on their way to the Olympic Park – so how prepared is Westfield Stratford City?
“It has been highly exciting,” said Myf Ryan, general manager marketing UK for Westfield. “We are the gateway to the Olympic Park. Since we opened we have been very focused with working with local bodies and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) to make sure that shoppers and visitors have a brilliant experience.”
The centre, which opened in September last year, is expecting about 70 per cent of all people going to the Park to go through Westfield as the main entrance to the Park is by the site.
These will be people who arrive by public transport into Stratford – on the Central or Jubilee lines, the Docklands Light Railway, mainline rail or by high speed.
Those visitors to the Park not going through Westfield will likely use one of the other entrances at Eton Manor Gate, Victoria Gate or Greenway Gate.
Myf said: “We have worked with LOCOG to ensure people get through to venues as quickly as possible.”
But those going to the Park are not the only ones who will be using public transport – last month Westfield’s car parks were closed to shoppers and will not reopen until after the Games end in mid-September.
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However, Myf insists both shoppers and spectators for the Games will be happy to use public transport.
She said: “I think people are on board that this is a public transport Games. There has been so much communication. I don’t think it will have a massive impact.
“I think people are in the mindset – it is about using the excellent public transport we have here. It is a wonderfully accessible centre.”
So if having to use public transport doesn’t put shoppers off, what about the huge crowds of people using the centre as a thoroughfare to get to the Park? Will that not deter those just wanting to buy clothes from Primark or grab a sandwich at Marks and Spencer?
“We are already promoting that we are open as normal. We are first and foremost Europe’s largest shopping destination,” saidMyf.
“We have got extended trading hours and we will have extra Sunday hours. Food and beverage will be until 12.30am and retail until 11pm.”
Shops in Westfield have been recruiting extra staff to cope with the busy summer, the centre’s management has been working with LOCOG to make sure crowd control measures are in place and Westfield says it is also prepared to welcome people from across the world.
Myf said: “Our concierge staff are trained to world host standard. They speak 26 languages among the team. We’ll have translated pages on our online offering and that will enable them [shoppers] to get them in their own language.”
Westfield is also offering visitors the chance to drop their bags off while they go to eat or watch the sport and will also arrange delivery to provide people with as “stress-free” a visit as possible, said Myf.
And there will be activities in the centre to help people get in the spirit of the Games. Myf said: “I think there is a real festival atmosphere.”