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London’s biggest shopping centre opens

Centre includes over 250 retailers and 50 eateries

Screen shot of Westfield shopping centre website

Europe’s biggest urban shopping centre opens its doors today in west London.

The £1.7 billion Westfield London shopping centre at Shepherd’s Bush hopes to attract 20 million visitors in its first year despite the economic downturn.

The sprawling shopping centre houses five department stores, 265 shops, 50 eateries and a cinema – in a glass-topped building covering nine postcodes and 43 acres.

Westfield London hopes to capitalise on Christmas shoppers looking to get all their shopping done under one roof.

High street shops

Next, Habitat and Boots are just some of the big names poised to open shops at Westfield London. Department stores include Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and House of Fraser.

You can find out which well-known high street shops have been voted top for customer satisfaction in our Which? high street shops survey results.

High street regulars are joined by a section of the centre dedicated to luxury brands including Tiffany’s, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, with 70 concierge and valet staff.

And when luxury shopping takes its toll on consumers’ feet, they can relax in style in the on-site champagne bar.

New public transport

Westfield took five years to build, including the development of two new rail stations and a bus station to cope with the huge number of consumers expected to visit.

A new street lined with restaurants has been constructed by developers outside the shopping centre.

The internal design includes quirky displays and features, including staircases that appear to float, a sculpture of laser-cut acrylic stilettos suspended in space and a floor made from recycled trainers.

Retail hot spot

Larger than both Kent’s Bluewater shopping centre and the Lakeside centre in Essex, Westfield London is second in size in the UK to Gateshead’s MetroCentre, the largest shopping centre in Europe.

If Westfield London is successful it will join London’s Oxford Street and London’s Kensington High Street as major retail hubs in the capital.

The Australian company behind Westfield London plans to open a further shopping centre in Bristol in 2010, and another near the Olympic Games site in east London, for 2012.

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