Westfield calls in Weber Shandwick to highlight growth in face of retail slump

Australian shopping centre giant Westfield has hired its first retained corporate PR agency to help highlight its role in battling the UK retail slump.

Success story: The group has plans to expand Westfield London
Success story: The group has plans to expand Westfield London

The group, which owns Europe’s largest shopping centre next to the Olympic Park in Stratford, has brought in Weber Shandwick on a corporate and b2b brief following a four-way competitive pitch.

WS’ brief encompasses strategic planning, press office support, corporate comms and support for Westfield’s London centres, as well as those in Derby and Merry Hill in the West Midlands.

A central focus of the brief will be helping to articulate Westfield’s growth story, particularly combating suggestions that the company has damaged the UK high street by highlighting the role Westfield plays in supporting the UK retail sector and the wider economy.

Westfield’s London shopping centres accounted for almost £2bn of sales last year and drew close to 70 million visitors, despite tough economic times for retailers leading to HMV, Blockbuster and Jessops going into administration.

The b2b aspect of the brief will see the agency help ensure the UK’s top retail brands want outlets in the centres.

The WS team will be led by Jon McLeod, chairman of corporate financial and public affairs, supported by director and property sector specialist Bronwyn Daly.

McLeod commented: ‘Westfield’s commitment to the UK is exemplary, and is only matched by its ability to bring real added value to the retail sector. Its centres have shown retail can have a strong future, while making a real contribution to communities and the wider economy.’

The agency will also help communicate Westfield’s growth plans in the UK, including the planned £1bn expansion of Westfield London and general corporate messaging around the proposed Croydon shopping centre joint venture with Hammerson.

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