Merry Hill has announced a host of new brands – including an expanded Primark store and a Smyths Toys superstore – as further details of a major five-year improvement programme are revealed.
The Primark Home store, which opened this month, provides an all-new range of quality, affordable home and lifestyle products, in addition to its extensive existing range of clothing and footwear. Paul Baldwin, Trading Director at Primark, said:
“We opened Primark at Merry Hill in 2007 and we are very proud to see our store expanding, offering the latest interior design trends at affordable prices.
“There has been exceptional growth within our home and lifestyle department over the past 18 months as people have spent more time in their home. We are continuously looking for new ways to innovate and look forward to seeing our ambitious plans come to life at our Merry Hill store.”
It comes after a major raft of improvements for Merry Hill were announced in July, designed to attract more flagship concepts, leisure attractions and eateries and restaurants to Merry Hill, creating the ultimate family shopping and leisure destination in the West Midlands by 2025.
A range of other new brands will also be opening at the centre for the first time including a new Smyths Toys superstore, which is set to open its doors on in the coming weeks, adding further to the family offer following the arrival of Hamleys in the summer. The dining options at Merry Hill will be growing with the arrival of German Donner Kebab, and the recently-opened Starbucks drive-thru. Conversations are also underway with an extensive list of other potential exciting occupiers.
From Wednesday 29th September, new signage will be installed across the entrances and the new Merry Hill style brought to life around the centre. The milestone is being marked by a free-to-attend programme of family-friendly entertainment and fun-filled performances and activities.
Taking place throughout the day on Wednesday 29 September, and with some activity continuing until Sunday 3 October, visitors to Merry Hill will be able to experience live music performed by musicians from the Resonance music institute and carnival dancers performing throughout the afternoon (Wednesday 29 September), secret pop-up acoustic performances throughout the afternoon and evening (Thursday 30 September and Friday 1 October), a performance by the Got 2 Sing Choir (Saturday 2 October at 2pm) and street theatre during the day (Saturday 2 October).
Members of the centre team will also be welcoming shoppers during the week with surprise free gifts to encourage sustainable shopping.
The performances and activities aim to provide a taste of future plans to bring a diverse programme of arts, culture and entertainment to Merry Hill as part of the centre’s transformation plans - drawing on local talent and partners to deliver a truly unique variety of experiences and entertainment. Already, an engagement process is underway with representatives from across arts, cultural and educational groups and organisations throughout the region, which will help inform a long-term strategy for performance and experience at Merry Hill.
At the heart of the five-year investment programme are plans to deliver a significantly enhanced leisure offering at the centre, allowing visitors and shoppers of all ages to enjoy a range of fun, sociable, non-retail activities and attractions, as well as restaurants and eateries. Early concepts for a number of new ‘Districts’ throughout the centre are under consideration, each dedicated to either entertainment, fashion, health and wellbeing and more.
Food-based pop-ups and culinary experiences designed to champion local retailers and food and beverage supplies will further enhance the leisure experience at Merry Hill. Extensive plans are being drawn up to better connect the centre to the nearby Waterfront, which is home to a variety of independent eateries, shops, the Resonance Music Academy and Black Country Radio.
The next step in the transformation plans will see signage and wayfinding drastically improved throughout the 2 million+ sq ft centre and surrounding area, allowing visitors to navigate with greater ease. Upgrades to the wayfinding are due to begin in the coming months, while longer-term plans for the five-year transformation are progressed and developed. Jonathan Poole, Centre Manager at Merry Hill, added:
“We are so excited to finally reveal the new branding for Merry Hill and formally kick off our five-year transformation plan for this destination. Though we will soon have a new look, the iconic Merry Hill name everyone has come to know and love since the centre first opened in 1986 will remain the same.
“It has been all change at Merry Hill this summer and I would like to extend the warmest of welcomes to the many new retailers who have taken space at the centre in recent months. I would also like to thank the thousands of shoppers who visit Merry Hill each and every day, especially those who took part in our biggest piece of customer research in over a decade as we prepared for the future.
“The response to the improvement programme we announced in July has been extraordinary, and we have been delighted by the subsequent enquiries from potential occupiers, shoppers and the many local organisations we’re talking to on a daily basis.
“We are very proud of Merry Hill, particularly in terms of how the centre has performed both during and after numerous pandemic-induced lockdowns. We’re bouncing back better; the re-opening and lifting of restrictions earlier this year proved there is still a significant appetite for retail destinations where people can spend time and enjoy themselves, with Merry Hill emerging as one of the strongest-performing shopping centres nationally post-lockdown.
“Merry Hill is already one of the leading shopping destinations in the UK, but by 2025 it will be home to even more flagship concept stores, as well as a revitalised leisure offer, to give people a dynamic, exciting destination for years to come.
"There is substantial commitment and momentum behind the scenes to make our vision a reality and we look forward to welcoming some of the biggest and best-known brands and experiences to Merry Hill.”
Merry Hill is the eighth largest shopping centre in the UK with a catchment of around 2.8 million people within a 45-minute drive of the destination.
There are more than 10,000 free car parking spaces available for visitors, while the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro Extension will further enhance Merry Hill’s connectivity with the addition of a new station close to The Waterfront. The line is expected to be open to passengers by 2023.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, numerous lockdowns and months-long restrictions on non-essential shopping, retailers at Merry Hill continue to outperform at +34 per cent above the chain average. According to research by Javelin, Merry Hill ranks number one in the West Midlands for store performance. It is one of the best performing retail destinations in the UK for a number of multinational stores.