Music festivals could be held at Castle Mall in Norwich
- Credit: Archant
Castle Mall has been a staple of the Norwich city centre for nearly 25 years and now has a new boss, new plan and, soon, a new look.
Returning operations manager Robert Bradley wants to move the shopping centre away from just retail and improve the aesthetics as he sets out his future plans.
Mr Bradley, 44, has returned to the Castle Mall after working at Liverpool's largest shopping centre, the St John's Shopping Centre, but after eight years he has been drawn back to his home city.
Now, he wants to use the experience of working in one of the country's biggest retail centres to turn Castle Mall into a massive success.
'I learnt a great deal and now I'm looking to use that here. I have a large amount of faith in Norwich as a place, the castle mall as a shopping centre and the companies I work for I believe they will make it a huge success otherwise I wouldn't be coming back.'
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A major focus of the manager is to look at how the mall can get back into the heart of the Norwich community. One of the ways that Mr Bradley is looking at doing this is to use the spaces for more than just shopping.
'The landlord is in discussions to use the Castle Mall for various different reasons.
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'We are reaching out to universities and the colleges, local organisations, to music festivals and trying to engage with those.
'You look at a music festival and you have 20, 30, 40,000 people that could all be customers of Castle Mall and it's building those relationships with those kinds of people to make a whole emphasise on what we do should be, to give people another reason to come to the Castle Mall.'
The mall has made moves to cater for families with the introduction of a children's club and hosting special events aimed at youngsters.
'We have also introduced the Castle Kids Club and that will be open throughout the summer for children and families.
'We have had story tellers, give always, workshops during half term and that has worked well. It's all about getting people reconnected with us and building a loyalty.
'The goal for the Castle Mall is to reconnect with the local community and get the engagement back with the community that hasn't been there for a few years.'
Mr Bradley has already started making updates to the look of the mall, with areas being repainted, new signage being installed in the car parks and improved lighting to highlight its architectural features.
'To me presentation is everything. I think the Castle Mall has some great features that need to be highlighted, being an underground shopping centre lighting isn't always our ally.
'With the Castle Mall I think the entrance at the White Lion Street is now superb.
'Its got a very Moroccan feel to it and I think that it will become iconic, I think we needed an entrance that doesn't blend into the background.'
The idea that the Castle Mall can be more than a shopping centre comes as it prepares to open the new multi-million pound food quarter named The Terrace.
Two new restaurants have been confirmed for the new area on Timber Hill; Babel, a bar and restaurant which is owned by Faucet Inn who have 15 pubs, bars and eateries across the south of England, and Cocina, a Mexican chain looking to open its first site in the fine city.
Although two restaurants have been confirmed for the new Terrace, the other units remain empty.
Mr Bradley said he is in talks with a range of national and independent outlets but nothing has been confirmed although he expects confirmation soon.
'We are looking to bring in food into the Castle Gardens,' he added, 'but it's about giving people another reason to spend time in Castle Mall.'