A HAMPSHIRE shopping centre has celebrated its first birthday in style – after a successful year in which more than four million shoppers visited.
Whiteley Shopping Centre marked its milestone this weekend with a party – and an obligatory giant cake.
The £84m facility opened with much fanfare last spring, which included celebrity support from Denise van Outen.
Centre manager Neil Carter said in its first year the centre had exceeded expectations, with more footfall than they had anticipated and better retail sales – and he is confident the shopping centre will go from strength to strength.
On Saturday the centre marked its special day with activities and the chance for a shopper to win a £1,000 Whiteley shopping spree in a free prize draw.
The centre features a mixture of 85 well-known high street brand names and nine independents, as well as a number of restaurants.
In the last year it has added eight to the original 50 shops and restaurants, with newcomers including Monsoon, Phase Eight, YO! Sushi and Wagamama.
Last May its opening brought traffic chaos as tens of thousands of shoppers flocked to the centre, close to junction 9 of the M27.
TV and theatre star Denise van Outen was there to cut the ribbon on the Mamas and Papas store.
More than 1,000 people are employed at the shopping centre, and 1,900 more workers and specialist contractors were involved in building work.
The centre is also looking to the future, with construction work already under way on Whiteley’s £18m leisure extension to the north, which includes a nine-screen Cineworld cinema along with Five Guys, Nando’s, PizzaExpress and Coast to Coast.
This next phase of the project is due to open next summer and will create 180 new jobs.