Squaring up

Published:  14 December, 2007

Burton-on-Trent is set for major change in the next two decades with plans by the council to regenerate the town centre.

Coopers Square is a major player in town and is among three shopping centres and a shopping park which make up the retail offer in the town centre. All the schemes, which are located alongside each other, work closely together and in partnership with Burton town centre management to ensure the town as a whole is an attractive place for people to visit.

Coopers Square offers the fashion retail line-up, while Burton Place has the Wilkinsons end of the market, and The Octagon - the town's newest centre - provides the value offer.

"We have very joined up marketing campaigns," says centre manager David Chadfield, "because we need to market the town as a whole. We're the major centre in the town, but people who shop here will also shop elsewhere and vice versa."

Currently the council has a forward-thinking plan for the next 20 years which includes an increase in retail. The preferred option stage is expected to be delivered by 2010. "It's at that stage we'll know where we sit in the plans," says Chadfield.

Coopers Square was first built in 1969 on an old Cooperage yard, in a joint venture between East Staffordshire District Council and Laing Properties. The original build included only five major retail units and 46 small units. Various phases in the 70s and 80s saw the centre grow.

In 1994 the centre was transformed from an open scheme into a covered centre. "It was a massive undertaking to put the roof on over a 12-month period, and the centre stayed open throughout that," explains Chadfield.

In 1996 the final stage was completed when Sainsbury's vacated its unit and moved across the road to its current site. The unit was split into three with Bhs taking the largest of those. The centre currently stands at 72 units, which are all currently let, over a space of 385,000 sq ft of retail.

"It's a popular centre to be in," says Chadfield. "It commands good rents and gives good return to Grosvenor.

"We've moved tenants around in the last six years, some in and some out, and kept the tenant mix positive. It makes things a bit different."

Last year footfall reached just short of 12 million, but with the opening of Westfield Derby up the road, those figures are likely to have dropped slightly this year.

"When they first started construction we had an influx of people from Derby, so we always knew we'd lose some of that back when Westfield Derby opened. People were bound to want to visit this nice new and spangly centre, and that's the period we're in at the moment," says Chadfield.

"It has hit us but nothing like as much as I thought it would. In the initial opening week we took a hit on footfall more than trade. A lot of people went to have a look, but were they buying there? It swung a bit in the second and third weeks when footfall increased but trade fell slightly as people were spreading the spend.

"We have very loyal customers but should never be complacent."

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=== vital statistics ===

Coopers Square

Owner: Grosvenor

Managing agent: Jones Lang LaSalle

Letting agents: DTZ, Churston Heard

GLA: 385,000 sq ft

Dwell time: 1hr 25mins

Footfall: Almost 12 million

Catchment: 1.652 million

Major stores: Bhs, M&S, Boots, Primark, Woolworths

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