Retail planning – Barber revamp food court in Weston shopping centre

This time last year street artist Banksy put the sleepy North Somerset seaside town of Weston-Super-Mare firmly on the map with his ‘Dismaland’ art installation at the abandoned Tropicana site on Weston’s sea front. This could not have come at a better time for property investment group Vixcroft who had recently acquired the Sovereign Shopping Centre at the heart of the town with plans to revamp it. Barber Design were appointed to aid in the retail planning and rebranding of the entire shopping centre, including complete modernisation of the centre’s food court, a new website design, wayfinding, signage, and promotional materials for the centre.

The Sovereign shopping centre was purchased by Vixcroft in February 2015. Vixcroft have an established profile in the property investment market as a skilled team of professionals with a hands-on approach. They are committed to enhancing the centre and it’s dated restaurant area and contributing to Weston’s long term economic revival. The £500k food court revamp is intended to break the mould of traditional shopping centre eateries by offering six new units to both national and independent local retailers, which will incorporate a sense of fun within the centre’s food offering.

The quirky design includes an ice cream van

New Food Court Design

After careful retail planning, design and rebranding by Barber, the refurbishment works started on 25th July and the dramatic interior overhaul will transform the Sovereign shopping centre’s food hall into a light, airy and modern design, ready for launch in September. In the meantime, the rest of the shopping centre will remain open during the food court refurbishment.

A coffee bar at the new food court revamp

The redesign is expected to increase tenancies within the space, and strengthen the brand identity of the mall as one of the region’s premier local shopping destinations in the lead up to Christmas. Barber were involved in all aspects of the design process from initial concept sketches right through to complete material specification and comprehensive detail drawing packs.

Speaking about the new development, Daniel Carter chief executive of Vixcroft emphasises their commitment to enhancing the local area:

“We are committed to not only the regeneration of the Sovereign shopping centre but also to the regeneration of Weston-super-Mare. We want to see Weston’s economy thrive, and we want play an active role in making it happen.”

Galley with a Sea View

The new food court will be called ‘The Galley’ – inspired by the centre’s close proximity to the seafront and local views, which can be enjoyed from the new seating area. The colour palette is infused with a modern seaside style, incorporating clean lines and strong nautical design elements, with a nod to the area’s tradition of summer entertainments with a traditional ice cream van and a grand piano incorporated into the setting.

Nick Cooke, manager of the shopping centre describes the motivation behind the new interior features:

“The Galley will offer more variety for our customers and will greatly improve our offering as a leisure destination. I am sure our visitors of all ages will enjoy it, from a tinkle on the piano to a lick of an ice-cream with sauce and sprinkles!”

Changing Eating Habits

Barber have taken into account the fact that both shopping and eating habits have changed over the last few decades and have completely revamped the existing food hall floorplan in response to this, as Barber Design Creative Director Neil Overall explains:

“The way we shop today is completely different from twenty years ago. In response, the Vixcroft owned centre is undergoing a full rebrand, bringing it up to date and appealing to visitors young and old. We have focused on beach inspired dining with kiosks individually named, branded and themed, and centred on traditional British cuisine.“

The rebranding is set to continue online as Barber are currently supervising an overhaul of the centre’s website to include matching design elements. The new food court and website will both be launched in September so if you’re in Weston this autumn be sure to check it out and let us know what you think!