Market Halls chief executive Andy Lewis-Pratt has told MCA he hopes new concept The Hall will shake up regional shopping centres by offering visitors a new dining experience.
Speaking after Market Halls’ new iteration was announced for intu Lakeside, Lewis-Pratt said there was a clear opportunity to create a differentiated independent-led dining offer in shopping centres, which was less reliant on High Street concepts.
He said The Hall, which builds on his background as a founder of leisure concept Xscape, could be rolled out to other shopping centres, with 15 regional and six London potential sites to target.
For its Lakeside launch, three of Market Halls’ best performing operators will be brought from London, with the remaining four units to be filled by Essex operators.
The 14,500 sq ft space, part of an extension of Lakeside, will also have a coffee shop, pop-up areas for food trucks and two bars.
The Hall will join a new Nickelodeon family entertainment centre, Puttshack’s first location outside of London, Hollywood Bowl’s largest bowling venue, Flipout indoor trampolining experience, and a nine-screen Vue Cinema.
Lewis-Pratt cited Lakeside’s 25m visitors a year, loyal catchment coming every two weeks, with 65% eating and drinking, and an average dwell time of two and half hours, as offering a clear opportunity for Market Halls.
Describing the origins of the concept, he told MCA: “At Market Halls we have been bringing old buildings back to life, and we thought why shouldn’t we bring great independent operators elsewhere, as there is not always a great building to regenerate.
“With my background in shopping centres, I thought let’s have a look and see if we can do something there.
“The concept is the same – independent traders, with the same vibrancy, same buzz, same good fun feeling – just in a different location.”
On the points of difference it will offer at shopping centres, he said: “If you look at Lakeside there will be the same traders you get everywhere, the usual chains. You’d be lucky to find one independent.
“We think that’s what makes it different – independent operators that love what they do, care about what they do, passionate about it. It makes it very different.”
On the evolving offer of regional shopping centres, he added: “Most are looking to do more than shopping, with Nickelodeon and Puttshack coming to Lakeside. We are an exciting new addition to the shopping environment. The risks are low because you have millions of people coming through. We’ve just got to make sure that they like our offer.
“Shopping centres need a shake-up – it’s become samey, boring. What we’re doing is none of that. We’re exciting fun and new. People want more than just going to the same shops. We are that new go-to place.”
He said the space was part of a separate extension, and would be made to look different from the rest of Lakeside, adding Market Halls position as quasi-operator gave it a different position to a landlord creating a food court.
He added: “It’s difficult for shopping centre landlords to do what we do. We are there as partners, we take a percentage of turnover and work together to make it exciting. There are some concepts that haven’t quite worked and we will learn from that. We come from a different place; we don’t come here as big landlords. That’s why we think it will work.”