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BLUEWATER OPENS ON MARCH 16 - A NEW ERA IN RETAILING BEGINS

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Bluewater, Europe's largest and most innovative retail leisure destination opens its doors for the first time at 1000hrs on Tuesday, March 16.

More than jut a shopping trip, Bluewater offers visitors a whole day out, with 320 quality fashion and lifestyle shops, and including 40 restaurants, cafes and bars, a 12-screen cinema and an extensive range of activities for children.

Bluewater's striking architecture and innovative retail design set it apart from other shopping destinations. Situated in a stunning location towering 50 metre high cliffs, Bluewater is surrounded by over 50 acres of parkland, including seven lakes and a million trees and shrubs.

Bluewater brings central London-style shopping to Kent, housing over 320 top UK and international shops within three distinct malls. And like Harrods, you can purchase anything from a pair of tights to a rare bottle of vintage champagne.

At Bluewater are:

  • Three department stores, John Lewis, House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer
  • 58 King's Road shops and 72 Covent Garden stores
  • 57 international fashion and lifestyle stores, many opening their first ever UK store.

High levels of customer service and personal attention will ensure that every guest's visit is memorable, enjoyable and stress free. Bluewater has recruited 250 hosts who will be on hand to make sure customers are made to feel welcome and to provide help and advice.

For example, on arrival at Bluewater, visitors enter through one of five welcome halls. Inspired by a hotel lobby, each welcome hall provides an information point with a concierge desk, lockers for coats, telephones and cash machines, as well as somewhere to relax with a cup of coffee on a comfortable sofa. Other customer service initiatives include personal shopping and valet parking.

From opening, 80,000 people are expected to visit Bluewater each day and with over 10 million people (20% of the total UK population) living within an hour's drive, Bluewater expects to attract over 30 million visitors each year.

Bluewater has three main areas where guests can take a break from their shopping to relax and choose from restaurants and cafes such as gourmet French restaurant Hediard, Starbucks coffee, Pret a Manger, Pizza Express, Dome and TGI Fridays. A new mediterranean pasta seafood restaurant, De: Alto, will open its doors to the public for the first time at Bluewater.

Also at Bluewater will be Australian cinema operator Hoyts' first UK multiplex which is opening in June. The 12-screen cinema will be their world showcase, with wall-to-wall screens and stadium-style seating. Guests can also make use of a VIP bar and valet parking service.

The largest greenhouse to be built in the UK this century is at Bluewater. Modelled on the palm House at Kew Gardens, it houses an indoor rainforest containing over 55 species of Australasian trees and plants.

Adrian Wright, managing director of Bluewater says: "We founded the entire Bluewater proposition on one simple statement - 'I want to be personally catered for', and we have done everything possible to ensure that every guest to Bluewater - male, female, young and old will be just this - personally catered for."

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Bluewater: a new shopping experience

A new generation retail environment is opening on March 16 1999 in a former chalk quarry in north-west Kent. Bluewater will be Europe's largest and mot innovative retail leisure destination. With over 320 stores in three malls, and leisure areas for rest and relaxation, Bluewater will offer a choice of shopping and dining that is unrivalled outside central London.

Bluewater's striking architecture and innovative retail design will set it apart from other shopping destinations. Situated in a stunning location among towering 50 metre high cliffs, Bluewater is surrounded by a tranquil landscape of lakes, parkland and trees.

The Bluewater philosophy is simple: to make shopping an enjoyable, stress-free experience, and to treat its customers as guests. An intensive induction programme will train the 250 service staff as hosts to make each visit to Bluewater both memorable and pleasurable. Guests also take advantage of other unique Bluewater services such as valet parking.

Extensive customer research resulted in triangular design to make shopping easier, with a department store at each corner (John Lewis, marks & Spencer and House of Fraser) connected by three distinct shopping malls. retailers have been grouped together to appeal to different customers, so you can find all you're looking for in one mall. For example:

  • The Guildhall offers the discerning shopper an exclusive selection of classic and high fashion retail, lifestyle stores and gourmet restaurant and cafes.
  • The Rose Gallery has a family focus, with major high street retailers, childrenswear, toy shops, an adventure play area and family restaurants.
  • The Thames Walk recreates the excitement of shopping in the West End, with high street fashion, cafes, bars and entertainment designed to appeal to young, fashion-conscious shoppers.

Classic Fashion and Homeware

Bluewater is home to the widest selection of quality fashion and lifestyle stores outside central London. Bluewater also has a unique range of forty specialist retailers selling anything from arts and crafts to model aeroplanes and fountain pens.

High Fashion

With an unrivalled choice of fashion retailers, Bluewater will be the trend setting retail destination for the new millennium. The mix of fashion, homewares and lifestyle shops at Bluewater will recreate the atmosphere of top London shopping areas all under one roof.

Shopping for Men

Almost 90 of Bluewater's retailers have been chosen specifically for their appeal to male shoppers, from specialist sports shops to menswear, from music and bookshops to electrical, computer and gadget stores. Open seven days a week until 2100hrs on weekdays, men can shop at leisure.

The mix of fashion, homewares and lifestyle shops at Bluewater will recreate the atmosphere of top London shopping areas all under one roof, 58 King's Road shops ad 72 Covent Garden stores will be at Bluewater. A staggering 200 of the 320 retailers are designing new concept and flagship stores especially for Bluewater.

The only shopping mall to have a John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and House of Fraser department store, Bluewater will have:

  • the only John Lewis department store in the south east outside central London, carrying half a million product lines.
  • the first architect-designed Marks & Spencer store with a state-of-the-art food hall with a demonstration area.
  • A House of Fraser store modelled on the new Kensington High Street stores, with exclusive brands such as Josephs, DKNY and Nicole Farhi.

Top retail brands at Bluewater include:

  • classic fashion: Jaeger, Austin Reed, Viyella, Russell & Bromley, Racing Green, Jacques Vert, Jigsaw, Hobbs and LK Bennett
  • high fashion brands: Ted Baker, Karen Millen, Elle, Gap, Nine West, Morgan, Kookai, Warehouse, Lacoste, CK Jeans, Diesel and Press & Bastyan, French Connection.
  • menswear: Woodhouse, Reiss, Jigsaw Men, Austin Reed, Timberland, Eddie Bauer, RM Williams and French Connection
  • homewares stores: Habitat, Jerry's Homestore, Lakeland, The Holding Company, Muji, Space NK Apothercary, The Pier and Villeroy & Boch
  • lifestyle retail: Boots The Chemist, Toni & Guy, SF Cody's, Waterstones, Crabtree & Evelyn, Paperchase and Swarovski
  • sports: First Sports, Hargreaves, Rohan, World of Football, Speedo, Surf Shop, Nevada Bobs Golf and JD Sports
  • books/music: Virgin Megastore, HMV, Waterstones, Dillons

IT/electrical/gadget shops: @Jakarta, Games Workshop, Gadget Shop, Gateway 2000, SF Cody's, Sony and Time Computers

  • international retails: 57 retailers (over 20% of Bluewater) are international, such as Mango, Zara, Bebe, Mexx, Muji, Campa, Bandolera, Eddie Bauer and L'Occitane
  • childrens' stores: 46 shops including Gymboree, Russell & Bromley Kids, Wade Smith JR, Gap Kids and Baby Gap, Next Kids, Lego and Warner Bros.

Rest and Relaxation, Refreshment and Entertainment

On arrival at Bluewater, you enter through one of five welcome halls. inspired by a hotel lobby, the welcome halls provide and information point and concierge desk, as well as somewhere to relax with a cup of coffee on a comfortable sofa.

Research by Bluewater showed that shoppers want to combine good food, entertainment and shopping in an ideal day out. As a result, Bluewater has created three leisure areas for guests to take a break from shopping and relax, where they can choose from almost 40 restaurants, bars and cafes. each area reflects the different style of the malls: gourmet food and lifestyle at the Village, entertainment and media at the Water Circus, and family-style dining at the Wintergarden.

An intimate shopping arcade with exclusive gifts and curios which is modelled on London's Burlington Arcade leads into The Village. Set around a traditional market square, the Village will offer exclusive a la carte French cusine from the Parisian restaurant Hediard, peaceful waterfront dining and jazz at Pizza express, mediterranean restaurant De Alto and a champagne and caviar bar all of which will stay open into the evening.

The Village looks out onto a rose garden, lakes and parkland where guests can go for quiet walks listen to music in the park, or enjoy other events and activities taking place throughout the year.

For guests in search of a livelier atmosphere the Water Circus, off the Thames Walk, recreates the energy and excitement of the West End, with a 12-screen Hoyts cinema multiplex, bars and restaurants such as Ed's Diner, TGI Friday's and a Dome brassiere as well as regular live entertainment late into the evening.

Hoyts' first UK multiplex will be their world showcase, complete with a bar, cafe and all the favourite movie fare plus floor to ceiling, wall to wall screens and stadium style seating. Those looking to indulge themselves can choose a luxury option that include special booking number and ticket collection facilities, exclusive lounge bar and super comfy seats.

The Water Circus opens out onto lakes and landscape where guests can try boating, ice skating or cycling, and enjoy live music events.

Keep the Children Happy

Every visitor to Bluewater is a guest, parents and children alike, and there is a range of facilities to make shopping with children more interesting. each of Bluewater's entrances has a welcome hall with a concierge, and parents can find out all about children's activities and facilities at the Kids' Concierge desk in the Rose Gallery.

The Wintergarden (off the Rose Gallery) has been designed as a focus for families with branded fast food outlets and kids' activities. Its 1,000m2 glass and steel atrium was inspired by Kew Gardens and is the largest greenhouse built in the UK this century. It houses an indoor rainforest complete with 30m high tropical trees imported from Florida, together with ponds and waterfalls.

Outside the Wintergarden children can explore the modern adventure playground with its towers and high-speed slide, basement grotto, nature trails and treasure hunts.

The Wintergarden is also home to Bluewater's creche - The Academy. With 200 places, The Academy is a totally new branded concept offering children both vocational care and structured activities provided in state-of-the-art facilities.

The Academy is split into two distinct areas - one offers a day nursery for 2-5-year-olds with quality care. The second houses three activity zones - Art, Sport and Life and provides activities for 6-12-year-olds.

Safer for You and Your Family

Bluewater's research revealed ways in which design features could enhance a guest's day at Bluewater and make it less stressful. Parking spaces are 25% bigger than usual to make it easier when manoeuvring pushchairs and shopping bags, there are parent-child toilets and pushchairs for hire.

Special care has been taken to make Bluewater a safe and comfortable environment and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust was consulted on security issues. Carparks were designed for maximum visibility and good lighting, minimum pillars, open-sided stairways and glass-fronted lifts. Security at Bluewater is ensured by an onsite police station with six on duty officers at any one time. landscaping has also been designed to minimise dark spots and obscured vision.

Breathtaking Architecture and Design

Bluewater's architecture is unique for a shopping environment. Conceived by American civic architect Eric Kuhne, its distinctive modern style is heavily influenced by English culture, local folklore and the Kentish environment.

Bluewater's malls are styled like balconied streets with ornamental balustrades on two floors and topped with glass-sided dome roofs which let natural light flood in. Fresh air is brought into the malls through rotating aluminium vents on the roofs, a unique design based on traditional Kent oasthouse roofs.

The path of the river Thames runs through the limestone floor of the Thames Walk and Shakespeare sonnets are inscribed in the malls. Artists and sculptors have produced fifty pieces of original art for Bluewater, including individual sculptures of each of the craftsmen of the medieval guilds.

Each of the three malls has a different design, and many of the retailers have created new store concepts and flagship stores to reflect Bluewater's innovative architecture.

Surrounding Bluewater are seven lakes and woodland tree-lined avenues, formal gardens and water gardens. Guests can also make use of Bluewater's cycle paths, boating lakes and picnic areas.

How to Get There

Bluewater is easily accessible from central London and throughout the south-east:

Train: There are four Connex South Eastern trains every hour into Bluewater-Greenhithe station from both London Charing Cross, Gravesend and the Medway towns. A walk-on shuttle bus service will meet every train and carry passengers the short distance to Bluewater.

Bus: Over 60 buses per hour will serve Bluewater from the surrounding area.

Car: Bluewater is a mile from the M25 and the A2/M2 junction and is well-signed from both roads. There are 13,000 parking spaces and over £30 million has been spent improving the public roads to ensure that driving to Bluewater is hassle-free, easy and safe.

Bicycle: Bluewater's cycle paths are linked to the National Cycle Network.

Opening Hours

Monday to Friday: 1000hrs-2100hrs

Saturday: 0900hrs-2000hrs

Sunday: 1100hrs-1700hrs

Bluewater's Developer - Lend Lease Corporation

Bluewater is the flagship European property development of international property and financial services group Lend Lease Corporation.

Listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, the company has £17.2 billion in property funds under management, including 140 shopping centres and 11.1 million m2 (120 million ft2) of retail space around the world. The company employs over 6,000 staff globally and has a market capitalisation of £3 billion.

Lend Lease Corporation is managing all aspects of Bluewater from development and design to construction and leasing, and will continue to manage Bluewater long after it opens in March 1999. Lend Lease is also developing Touchwood Court in Solihull and the Overgate Centre in Dundee.

Retailers at Bluewater

Anchor Stores: John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser

Guildhall Rose Gallery The Thames Walk Oasis Acc.

   Accessorize         Allsports           @Jakarta           Perfume Shop
   Angelic             Ann Harvey          Abbey National     Poster Shop
   Artisan             Baby Gap            Adams              Revolution
   Austin Reed         Barton Jon          Athena             Rohan
   bebe                Bay Trading         Barratts           Serendipity
   Caroll              Best                Base               Sole Trader
   Cecil Gee           Birthdays           Bears 'N' Bunnies  Sony
   Choice              Blakes              Beaverbrooks       Speedo
   CK Jeans            Blue Tomato         Belt Shop          Stencil Store
   Coffee Republic     Body Shop           Benetton           Surf Shop
   Country Casuals     Burton              Berkertex Brides   Swag
   Crabtree & Evelyn   Carli Gry           Birthdays          Sweet People
   David Clulow        Ciro Citerio        Blacks             Sweets From
                                                                Heaven
   Diesel              Clares Accessories  Bon Marche         The Discovery
                                                                 Store
   Dockers             Clintons            Boots              Thomas Cook
   Dune                Coast               Boys Base          Thorntons
   Eddie Bauer         Dillons             BT                 Throtleman
   Elle                Disney              Burger King        Time
   Envy                Dolcis              C & J Clarke       Top Man
   French Connection   Dorothy Perkins     C&A                Top Shop
   Gap                 Ecco                Cafe Giardino      Topaz
   Gap Kids            Elvi                Camper             Toystack
   Godiva              Ernest Jones        Carphone Warehouse Villeroy &
                                                                 Boch
   Goldsmiths          Etam                Catimini           Virgin
   H2O                 Evans               Classic
                                             Collectables
   Habitat             Fiorelli            Coffee Republic    Vodaphone
   HOBBs               Game                Crafty Arts        Wade Smith
                                                                 Junior
   Jacques Vert        H Samuel            Cromwells          Walker & Hall
   Jaeger              Hargreaves          CTN                Whittards
   Jerrys Home Store   HMV                 D2                 Woolwich
   Jigsaw              Holding Co          Dixons             World of
                                                                 Football
   Jigsaw Menswear     Holland & Barrett   Early Learning     Zara
   Jones Bootmaker     Jane Norman         Eisenegger
   Kaliko              Jeffrey Rogers      Electronics Boutique
   Karen Millen        La Senza            Evita Peroni
   Kookai              Levis Original      Famously Yours     The Village
                          Store
   L Occitane          Logo                First Spirit       Hediard
   Lacoste             Lunn Poly           Fraser Hart        Maison Hediard
   Laura Ashley        Masai               Free Spirit        De: Alto
   LK Bennett          Miss Selfridge      Gadget Shop        Pizza Express
   Mango               Natural World       Games Workshop     Costa Coffee
   Mexx                Paragon             Gateway 2000
   Monsoon             Party Party         Gymboree
   Morgan              Past Times          Halifax            Wintergarden
   Muji                Pilot               Hennes             The Ebglish
                                                                 Restaurant
   Next                Pret A Manger                          BB's Coffee &
                                                                 Muffins
   Nine West           Principles          Hope & Glory       Villa Pizza
   Oasis               Ravel               Hoyts Multiplex    Feed the Five
                                              Cinema             Thousand
   Octopus             Review              Intatravel         Singapore Sam
   Pied a Terre        River Island        Into the Void      The Patissere
   Press & Bastyan     Salisbury           JD Sports          Spud U Like
   Racing Green        Savoy Tailors Guild/Jessops            KFC
                          Blazer
   Reiss               Sergio Taccini      Jewellery Store    McDonalds
   RM Williams         Starbucks           Joe Bloggs         Loseley
                                                                 Icecream
   Russell & Bromely   Suits You           Joe Bloggs Junior  The Sweet
                                                                 Factory
   Russell & Bromley   Supercuts           Just Leather       Bradwell'-A
    Kids                                                         Taste of
                                                                 England
   SF Cody's           Superdrug           Kiwi               Nescafe Coffee
                                                                 House
   Space Nk Apotheracy Swarovski           Knickerbox         Ponti's
   Starbusks           Tammy               Lakeland
   Sunglass Hut        The Link            Leslie Davies
   Tanners             The Pier            Letterbox
   Ted Baker           Tie rack            Love 2 Learn       Water Circus
   The Gap             USC                 Lush               Dome
   Timberland          Vestry              Mad Dogs           Costa Coffee
   TLC                 Vision Express      Mikey              TGI Fridays
   Toco                Wallis              Mister Minit       Ed's Diner
   Toni & Guy          Warner Brothers     Modelzone
   Viyella             Watch It            Mothercare
   Warehouse           Wax Lyrical         Nevado Bob's
   Watch Station       Websters            New Look
   Waterstones         WH Smith            Next Boys & Girls/
                                              Interiors
   Woodhouse           Zugi                O'Neil

Notes to Editors:

Bluewater is the flagship European property development of international property and financial services group Lend Lease Corporation and was designed by American civic architect Eric Kuhne. The Bluewater construction project began in November 1995 and over 7,000 jobs have been created at Bluewater.

How to Get There

Bluewater is easily accessible from central London and throughout the south-east:

Train: There are four Connex South Eastern trains every hour into Bluewater-Greenhithe station from both London Charing Cross, Gravesend and the Medway towns. A walk-on shuttle bus service will meet every train and carry passengers the short distance to Bluewater.

Bus: Over 60 buses per hour will serve Bluewater from the surrounding area.

Car: Bluewater is a mile from the M25 and the A2/M2 junction and is well-signed from both roads. There are 13,000 parking spaces and over £30 million has been spent improving the public roads to ensure that driving to Bluewater is hassle-free, easy and safe.

Bicycle: Bluewater's cycle paths are linked to the National Cycle Network.

Pictures to accompany this press release are being transmitted via the PA later today and will also be on the Two-Ten News Network area of the PA Bulletin Board. There is no charge for using the picture or the story.

SOURCE Lend Lease



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