People of Wembley – you drive a hard bargain. When developer Quintain bought the 350,000 sq ft plot of land next to the national stadium, it surveyed local residents to find out what they wanted from a new retail development – with little in the way of independent shops or thriving cafés in the area, it was difficult to find a precedent. What came back was a definitive rejection of the ‘Bicester Village’ model – premium fashion and designer labels at discounted prices. Residents wanted brands that were already cheap, and they wanted them discounted too.
So what has been billed, rather misleadingly, as a London Designer Outlet really isn’t – it is an outlet, but for brands like Nike and Adidas, Gap (pictured, right), Clarks shoes and Marks & Spencer. The poshest brand is probably streetwear and denim label Superdry, making the offering more like Portsmouth’s popular Gunwharf Quays, with a similar mix of ‘family’ restaurant chains and household-name brands.
So just how cheap is cheap? To qualify for a spot in the centre, brands had to promise a 40 to 70 percent discount on recommended retail prices on everything in store. When you consider that a pair of H&M jeans already cost less than £20, it becomes cheaper to shop at its outlet than at Primark – arguably the universal benchmark of how low a price can actually go, which will delight locals as well as those who are likely to travel here on the promise of a bargain.
The centre benefits from the infrastructure surrounding the stadium and arena, meaning excellent transport links and thousands of empty parking spaces when it’s not a match day. But when it is? The stadium has a 90,000 capacity, which might make the centre – effectively a thoroughfare from Wembley rail station to the venue’s entrance – less a casual browsing site and more a stampede. Ever opportunistic, the developer has placed its run of sports suppliers on that route – which makes perfect sense. But if you want a parking space or a seat on the Tube, our recommendation is to avoid a visit when the Three Lions are in town.