Chantry Place 'close to finalising deals' with four major brands

Paul McCarthy. General manager of Chantry Place. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Paul McCarthy, general manager of Chantry Place - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Four big-name brands are set to announce new shops opening in Norwich next year. 

Deals are currently in the pipeline with Chantry Place and shutters are expected to come up early in 2022. 

Chantry Place general manager Paul McCarthy said the national businesses will have a positive impact on other traders in the centre.  

Mr McCarthy said: "We are in a position now where I have only got five units that are not trading out of 91 and that's a really good position to be in. 

"Of those five, four are really, really close to getting some fantastic new brands signed up and trading. 

"When we are able to secure and announce those deals, not only will those four tenants go on to do incredibly well because they are great brands, but the rest of the centre will benefit too." 

Paul McCarthy. General manager of Chantry Place. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Paul McCarthy outside the main entrance to Chantry Place. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The shopping centre boss cited the example of Hamleys, the world's oldest toy store, as having a productive impact on nearby footfall as more families visit as a result. 

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Chantry Place has also welcomed Subway, H&M Kids and H&M Home, as well as The Real Greek restaurant during the pandemic period. 

POSTER-Toy-shop-Hamleys-opens-in-Chantry-Place

Hamleys has recently opened in Chantry Place

Reflecting on bouncing back from Covid, the retail chief added: "It's interesting when you look back at what we have been through. 

"At times it has been really difficult because nobody has managed or led a business through a pandemic before, so this is all completely new.

"For a time there was a genuine crisis affecting everyone, but you always find yourselves reverting back to some core principles in a crisis.

"The first is always looking after your people and making sure they are safe. We have got nearly 2,000 people working here.

"We are one of the largest single site employers in the whole of Norfolk so the priority is making sure those guys are safe to go about their business." 

Paul McCarthy. General manager of Chantry Place. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Paul McCarthy, general manager of Chantry Place - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Among the safety measures which are set to stay at the centre are an increased cleaning regime and hand sanitising stations. 

Mr McCarthy said staff will also continue to monitor occupancy to restrict overcrowding where necessary. 

And the boss is feeling confident the shopping centre and retail is in a healthy position to hold its own against the world of online sales and everchanging consumer habits.

"While footfall is not quite back to the pre-pandemic levels, sales are," Mr McCarthy explained. 

"What our tenants are telling us in terms of sales numbers is that most of them are doing at or better than 2019 levels - even though footfall has not recovered.

"What that tells me is that our offer and how we are attracting customers to the centre is working." 

The top brass at the shopping centre are constantly monitoring customer feedback through social media channels and looking at ways to adapt to people's needs.

Paul McCarthy. General manager of Chantry Place. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Paul McCarthy, general manager of Chantry Place is feeling optimistic for the future after bouncing back from Covid - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Mr McCarthy said: "We are in a really strong place. I think there will be less retail in cities and towns across the country generally but the very best destinations will be the ones that thrive. I very much put us in that category.

"We have come out of the pandemic with everyone trading like before and we have secured high quality new lettings.

"There will always be reasons for people to come and visit us and to see what our tenants have to offer. I see that being the case for the next five to 10 years.

"I am naturally optimistic anyway, but seeing how we have responded to the pandemic, I think we are in a really strong place." 

Only Disney has left Chantry Place during the pandemic period which was as a result of a national corporate decision. 

Mr McCarthy said: "There were some great people who worked there and we already know all those people have got jobs elsewhere." 

He also reflected on a productive post-lockdown summer with families engaging with the GoGoDiscover T-Rex sculpture trail.

Mr McCarthy also said restaurants in Chantry Square were able to extend their seating areas with the tables often full. 

Christmas excitement 

Those visiting Chantry Place this Christmas will be greeted by a glittering tunnel of stars which returns temporarily in place of the rainbow currently at the site. 

But many shoppers are already in the Christmas spirit with Mr McCarthy stating people have started buying presents earlier than usual. 

The Tunnel of Stars is returning to Chantry Place shopping centre in Norwich for Christmas 2021. 

The tunnel of stars is returning to Chantry Place for Christmas - Credit: Supplied

The Chantry Place general manager added: "We are really excited about Christmas and we are hoping it will be much more like a traditional Christmas where friends and family come together." 

Christmas decorations will be put up at the shopping centre on Sunday night to welcome visitors the following morning. 

The shopping centre thrives off this time of the year which is typically the busiest period in its calendar. 

And Mr McCarthy believes the shopping centre has an advantage over online retail when it comes to handling presents and getting a feel for what they will be like.

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