Battersea Power Station is finally open, biggest retail development in years
Battersea Power Station finally reopened on Friday as a giant shopping mall and leisure destination after a transformational restoration.
Thousands of people turned up to see what all the fuss was about and to check out one of London’s most significant retail developments in decades. And the day before the opening, the King of Malaysia was even there to kick off the celebrations.
The opening came almost 40 years after the building stopped functioning as a power station, as well as after multiple false starts (and owners) and fears that it might just be allowed to crumble. Instead, a £9 billion spend on the part of the Malaysian group that finally took control has created a truly unique retail destination.
Unlike most other UK malls it wasn’t just about building a great-looking shopping centre, but creating one that respected the historic buildings in which it’s housed while adding sympathetically designed new structures. Just like Covent Garden decades ago and Coals Drops Yard in King’s Cross more recently, it’s been done superbly.
But is it therefore just another mall? Not at all. It's a destination, not just a development, and its importance can be seen by the investment that many of its tenants have put into it. And the quality of those tenants also reflects its status.
Let’s look at just a few. Calvin Klein has opened its newest lifestyle store with a 250 sq m space that’s more than just a another shop in a mall. Included alongside the collections is a new olfactory experience along with digital screens and a lounge area where visitors can relax, engage and socialise. And to add to the brand’s presence, later this month, bespoke Calvin Klein kiosks will be stationed around BPS to distribute a special-edition zine created with The Perfect Magazine. The zine will feature local communities within Battersea and showcase a curated selection of Calvin Klein’s latest collection.
BIG ON SPORTS
The sports offer at BPS is big, with names such as Adidas, Castore, Lululemon, Sweaty Betty and Nike. The latter sums up the approach of many brands with extra effort put into its new space. Nike by Battersea is only its second ‘Live’ door in London.
Located on Electric Boulevard, it has “been built to serve all members and connect the fitness community to the city”. The store is offering a “curated assortment” of sport performance apparel, footwear, and accessories. It offers Bra Fit consultations, plus one-to-one services like Styling Session. It’s also introducing a new digital Community Board that will invite Nike members to weekly sports events, share best practice and introduce the store teams in a unique way, “all with the purpose to inform, inspire, inform and engage our consumer”.
It’s actually the first Live store in the UK that has a Community Hub. Members can enjoy bi-weekly run clubs, yoga training and other workshops led be Nike trainers, and the space will also serve as home for activations with local community partners.
Then there’s Gant, introducing a new retail concept that’s a first for the UK. It’s a modern interpretation of the brand’s heritage, dating back to 1950s university campuses on the East Coast of the US.
The materials are drafted from mid-century interiors with rich walnut wall panels and travertine floors under large, plush area rugs. Much of the cherrywood furniture draws inspiration from classic university libraries and campuses. The heavy use of polished steel is a nod towards the chrome of classic Americana. And the colour palette has been designed to complement the power station’s 1930s interior.
Another store on Electric Boulevard is the new Zara, which is actually the inditex-owned brand’s biggest-ever UK store. Covering two floors, it’s immediately opposite the power station complex itself in a building designed by Frank Gehry.
The huge store sells the complete Zara offer, including Home, in a tech-driven space that has lots of new features.
Customers can access a fitting room reservation service, collect online orders within two hours, scan and pay for items with their phones, search online to check in-store stock, and more.
There are special ‘boutique’ spaces for certain collections with distinctive boutiques for lingerie and shoes, plus the Athleticz sports collection, and other lines.
Meanwhile, Uniqlo also sees this as a key store with the retailer including its repair-and-customise Uniqlo Studio service hub. That offer only launched this year as part of the giant Regent Street flagship debut.
And at the other end of the price scale, the Watches Of Switzerland Group has gone all-in for its BPS presence. It has opened a Watches of Switzerland showroom featuring Rolex and three monobrand boutiques in partnership with Omega, Breitling, and TAG Heuer. Its fifth showroom will see a monobrand boutique open in partnership with Tudor on 28 October. The WoS showroom also has a dedicated space for Cartier while Hublot, Longines and Grand Seiko complete the remaining branded areas with dedicated space for Zenith, Bulgari, Chanel and Bremont too.
Then there’s Rituals with its first “premium” UK location and its first flagship wellbeing hub; Space NK with a “unique” store featuring experiential zones and expertise pods for in-depth consultations; Superdry expanding on the vintage offer that it first unveiled in its brand new Oxford Street store last year; and The Body Shop with a store that’s 90% made from recycled and sustainably sourced materials, as well as including refill stations.
Other retailers there include, Theory, Lacoste, Mulberry, Ralph Lauren, Aesop, Hugo Boss, Jo Malone London, and Mango, among many others.
Battersea Power Station may be opening at one of the worst time for UK retail, but it's clearly targeting 'supermall' status and expecting to be one of the select group of malls that prospers in both good times and bad.
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