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Norfolk Business Awards 2019

Castle Mall boss reveals 'exciting' future for Norwich shopping centre

PUBLISHED: 16:49 14 February 2019

Robert Bradley in the space where a new bowling alley will be in Castle Mall, Norwich

Robert Bradley in the space where a new bowling alley will be in Castle Mall, Norwich

Archant

"Castle Mall is not dying - it is evolving."

That is the defiant message from the Norwich shopping centre’s boss Robert Bradley as new leisure-based tenants prepare to move into the site.

A bowling alley and gym will open in the mall this summer and it is rumoured a rock climbing facility will follow.

Some retailers have left the mall in recent months and years but Mr Bradley believes the site has a bright future and the changes simply represent how the high street is evolving.

MORE: Cinema wars in Norwich as ticket prices are cut by nearly half

“I think the perception of Castle Mall has perhaps been negative but we have been moving towards where we are now for as long as 18 months,” he said.

“So behind the scenes we have been itching to tell people what is happening but have not been able to. That has been very frustrating. When you hear people saying ‘oh this is shut, that is shut’ and you can’t correct that person and say ‘actually wait six months and this will happen’.

“With the bowling alley and the gym opening very soon we can now, finally, start telling people the good news.”

Mr Bradley is aiming to change the direction of Castle Mall to ensure it offers a “full day of experiences” rather than just retail.

“Consumers are now spending as much as 48pc of discretionary expenditure on experiences and experiential products. Millennials and Gen Z are driving this, with young people and families spending more on entertainment, attractions and other experiences than ever before.

“In addition, non-retail tenants – including food and beverage, leisure and community amenities – have led to as much as 28pc estimated rental value growth, a 7.24pc increase in footfall and a 1pc decrease in vacancy rates in some European shopping malls in the last two years.

“Therefore there is significant opportunity at Castle Mall, through this new strategic direction, to be highly successful.”

Superbowl is investing £2 million into their new Castle Mall site which will include 12 lanes, an obstacle course, a Sega arcade zone and creating 35 jobs. PureGym have also announced a £1.5 million investment with 18 news jobs.

Mr Bradley added: “These are challenging times but we believe we are future-proofing the centre with new tenants and a new direction. It really is very exciting.”

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