Beating the gloom: what makes a successful high street?

intu has invested £180 million in a town centre shopping and leisure destination, fighting back against the so-called death of the high street.

The expansion of intu Watford, which launched last year, has brought in new retailersrestaurants, and leisure operators previously unavailable in the town to create a thriving destination at the heart of Watford high street.

The increased investment and subsequent customer demand have promoted Watford to a top-20 retail destination in property consultancy CACI’s national rankings, alongside Reading and Edinburgh, while the extra jobs provided means intu Watford now supports 12% of all jobs in the town.

Collaboration with Watford council was a key element to the success of the scheme, which redeveloped a run-down precinct previously owned by the council and complemented the wider regeneration of the high street.

The development of intu Watford’s expansion has been detailed in a new report, ‘The evolving role of flagship shopping destinations’, which covers the project from its inception to its launch and highlights four key learnings.

Matthew Roberts, intu’s chief executive, said: “The success of intu Watford’s expansion proves the potential for other high street shopping destinations all over the country. It is a constantly changing and sometimes challenging retail environment but with the right investment and collaboration, the best locations can and will continue to evolve and thrive.

“At intu Watford, we have tapped into the needs of its catchment population to develop a new retail and leisure offer that is bringing more retailers, experiences and ultimately more people to the high street. We’re proud of what we have done here and how we have worked to breathe new life into the British high street.”

Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: “Once you see private businesses putting investment in it does spur on the public sector to rethink its plans. This investment in the town centre is a sign of confidence and has definitely driven us to make improvements as well.”

The full report is available to download here.

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