Essex mall given rates break

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The Independent Online

A giant shopping centre in Ilford, Essex, has won a 20 per cent reduction in its business rates due to the threat posed by the new mega mall Westfield Stratford City.

The Exchange, Ilford, has won the reduction from the Valuation Office until 31 March 2015.

Ilford is one of several towns, including Beckton, Dagenham and Romford, to suffer the effects from by the new large centre.

Owner Meyer Bergman has invested £10m in refurbishing The Exchange and a 20,000 sq ft Next store opened there last week.

Markus Meijer, chief executive of Meyer Bergman, said: "We anticipated that Westfield would affect trade – particularly in the first four months. However, surprisingly, footfall is consistently up, sales have not been as affected as we thought, and we've got a 98-per-cent let scheme that is still in its final stages of redevelopment. I think this shows the clear difference between Westfield and Exchange – we are catering for our local shopper."