London's West End restaurateurs deny impact of Westfield opening

09 December 2008 by
London's West End restaurateurs deny impact of Westfield opening

Restaurateurs in London's West End have played down fears that the opening of the Westfield shopping centre has caused a drop in customers.

Figures compiled for The Sunday Telegraph last month suggested that footfall in the West End was down 25.2% between the opening of Westfield London on 30 October and 5 November, compared with the same period last year.

Sales in nearby Kensington High Street, Knightsbridge, the Kings Road and Sloane Street also dropped by more than a quarter, according to the report.

The Earl of Bradford, proprietor of Porter's Restaurant and Covent Garden Grill and vice chairman of the Restaurant Association, told Caterersearch that he had noticed a drop in footfall, particularly on Sundays.

"Sundays have been especially bad for us but while the West End has been really quiet Westfield has been booming," he said.

"Covent Garden is an attraction in its own right and people come to shop, eat out or go to the theatre but it seems that Westfield is taking some of that away."

However, other operators in the area said they had not noticed a knock on effect from Westfield.

Simon Kossoff, managing director of Carluccio's, which considered opening a unit in Westfield, told Cateresearch he hasn't seen a drop in trading. "We can't discern a particular Westfield effect," he said.

This was echoed by Mark Selby, managing director and co-owner of Mexican restaurant group Wahaca, which has outlets in Covent Garden and Westfield. "We haven't noticed a difference in trading since opening in Westfield," he said.

"With the market being the way it is trading conditions are tough and there has been a drop in footfall in general. What we have seen is customers who have visited our Covent Garden restaurant come to the Westfield outlet on the back of the experience."

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By Kerstin Kühn

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