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New lettings revealed for Grand Central

But developers confirm grand opening will be a year later than planned to coincide with unveiling of New Street Station

An artist’s impression of the new shopping and dining areas in the Grand Central scheme which will overlook the new train station atrium. They will both open together some time in 2015
CGI of the new shopping and dining areas in Grand Central, overlooking the atrium of New Street Station

Developers of Grand Central have revealed a host of new lettings but confirmed it will be opening a year later than originally planned.

The vast shopping centre, which includes Birmingham's first John Lewis, will commence trading alongside the redeveloped New Street Station in September 2015.

Network Rail announced last October the opening would be later than expected - John Lewis was originally set to trade by Christmas 2014 - but said the final decision had been made to open the £750 million scheme en masse.

Meanwhile, 425,000 sq ft of the total 500,000 sq ft of floor space has now been taken, with Joules, Cath Kidston, Fat Face, Jolie Papier and Monsoon Accessorize the latest to sign up.

The new centre will boast 40 stores and 20 restaurants and will create up to 1,000 jobs for local people, as agreed in special charter.

Mel Evans, marketing manager at Grand Central, told the Post the delay would mean offering a better customer experience.

She said: "We always had two options - whether to open Grand Central and John Lewis earlier than the station or at the same time.

"While we did initially want to open for Christmas 2014, we decided that, when you look over at the concourse and the station, it would not be the right customer experience."

She added: "It is going to be September 2015 because we want the customer experience to be amazing when people first come into Grand Central and John Lewis.

"There will be a lot of people who will be coming into the city for the first time in a long time and we want that first experience with the shopping centre to be a memorable one - including a bustling concourse.

"We did look at various parts of the project to see whether the experience would have been right but we decided this was the right time for that amazing impact.

"Modern shopping is about more than just shops. It is about an experience, about meeting people and enjoying a destination and we think that can be best achieved this way."

 

The final roll call for Grand Central is a little clearer with the announcement of new lettings including fashion house Joules, home furnishings company Cath Kidston, casual clothing brand Fat Face and Jolie Papier which sells greeting cards, stationery and gifts.

They will join other companies which have signed up including Kiehls, The White Company and L'Occitane and eateries such as Carluccio's, Caffé Concerto and Yo! Sushi.

Ms Evans added: "There are a lot of negotiations taking place at the moment. It is quite exciting that, out of all the restaurants that are signed, the majority are moving to the city for the first time.

"We are talking to lots of restaurants and cafés, most of which have never been out of the South East, so they are making their regional debuts."

Grand Central will be a key development for the region, as the first location visitors will see when they step off the train and more than 50 million people are expected through the building each year.

The next key construction milestone for the project involves an extensive demolition programme to remove approximately 6,000 tonnes of reinforced concrete, to create the atrium space which, on completion, will be the size of a football pitch.

More than 95 per cent of the waste material will be re-used on site or recycled.

 

Keith Stone, leasing director for Grand Central, said it would improve the city's retail standing.

"Grand Central is fully integrated with the modern, redeveloped station which will provide millions of people from across the region with unparalleled access to a range of exciting brands and a premium shopping experience," he said.

"With the vast majority of our retailers and restaurants opening new shops in the city, Grand Central will complement the significant entertainment offer already in Birmingham and elevate the city up the retail hierarchy."

The project is backed by Birmingham City Council, Department for Transport, Network Rail and Centro and is being developed by Network Rail alongside its delivery partner Mace.

The £600 million project for the regeneration of the station is complemented by £150 million being spent on the transformation of the Pallasades into Grand Central Birmingham.

The work at New Street will deliver three-and-a-half times more space, easier access to platforms with new lifts and escalators and new entrances which will better connect the station, the Metro extension from Snow Hill, new public space and improved pedestrian links.

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