Retailers and celebrity chefs set for City battle

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The Independent Online

The first major retail development in central London since the financial crisis will open its doors on 28 October to many of the high street's biggest names, and see the country's two most famous celebrity chefs going head to head with new restaurants.

Chains including Superdry, Topshop, Next, Marks & Spencer Simply Food, Reiss and Hobbs have signed up to take retail space in the One New Change shopping mall at Cheapside, near St Paul's Cathedral.

Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay are due to open restaurants in the centre, which covers 220,000 square feet of retail and food space, and has 330,000 sq ft of offices.

While the outlook for consumer spending is uncertain across much of Britain, One New Change should be sheltered by the return of bumper City bonuses this year and an annual influx of 6.3 million foreign visitors to the Square Mile.

The property giant Land Securities acquired the lease on the building in 2000 from the City of London Corporation. It said the scheme's 60 retail units were 96 per cent let or in the hands of solicitors, although only 40 per cent of the offices are let so far. It will be the City's biggest retail development and the first big scheme to open in central London since Cardinal Place, also developed by Land Securities, was built near Victoria station in 2005.

David Atcherley-Symes, the retail manager for Land Securities' London portfolio, said: "There are 340,000 local workers in the City and most of them can reach One New Change within a 15-minute walk. They are time poor but relatively rich and most of the people who work in the City are that perfect age group of 18 to 30 years old that retailers love. It is almost the perfect demographic."

He added that One New Change would be open seven days a week, complementing the area's museums and art galleries.

Jamie Oliver and his business partner Adam Perry-Lang, a New York meat chef, will unveil their barbecue-themed restaurant, Barbecoa, on the opening day. It will have a butcher's, seating for 200 diners and a large 40-seater bar.

The opening date for Ramsay's new restaurant has not been confirmed because the Scottish chef's advisers exchanged contracts only last week and have yet to reveal a name for the venue.

One New Change, which offers views of St Paul's and other landmarks, will be home to the first City branches of Topshop, All Saints, H&M, Cortefiel Group's Women's Secret and the fourth UK store for Banana Republic.

Mr Atcherley-Symes said Land Securities had offered tenants incentives to sign up to the scheme, but it had "maintained the financial targets". M&S will open a food hall in the basement and the mall will also have branches of Zizzi, Wasabi, Nando's and Sumo restaurants.

The scheme will house a number of independent shops, including Strip – a waxing bar and underwear store – and the pastry shop Bea's of Bloomsbury. The building was designed by the award-winning Jean Nouvel.

Robert Noel, managing director of Land Securities' London portfolio, said: "We are changing people's perceptions of the City and creating a new retail destination where the area's rich culture can be enjoyed by Londoners and tourists alike."

Separately, Westfield confirmed yesterday that its Stratford City shopping centre in east London will open in September next year.

The Australian property company said the scheme, next to the 2012 Olympics park, was 70 per cent "leased or committed".

Thriving in the recession

Poundland has more than doubled its profits and vowed to maintain its rapid store opening programme, but the single-price retailer warned of a tough three years for the economy.

Jim McCarthy, the chief executive, said a "manic control of costs", more customers and new branches helped it to record a pre-tax profit of £19.8m for the year to 28 March, compared with £8.6m a year ago.

He said Poundland had continued to sell "lots of milk", priced at £1 for four pints, and other best-sellers including 12-packs of Kodak batteries, emergency tents, "plush" meerkat soft toys and boxes of Maltesers. Total sales rose by 29 per cent to £509.8m.

But underlying sales growth at Poundland, which has 293 stores, came in at 0.7 per cent, down on the 2.1 per cent in the year to March 2009. Poundland – which was acquired by the private equity firm Warburg Pincus in May for £200m – opened 56 new shops last year and will add a further 50 this year.

But Mr McCarthy said of the outlook for Britain's high streets: "We will have two to three years of really challenging economic times."