The Exchange, Ilford

When C&R acquired the scheme in March 2017, there were long-term void units, a confused merchandising mix, and an environment that was cold and sterile. Extensive research was carried out with both shoppers and retailer tenants, identifying a number of areas where the centre could be developed to provide a better experience.

The borough of Redbridge has 40% more families than the UK average and work was focused on improving facilities and retail mix for this key guest segment. Improved parent and baby rooms, wayfinding, toilets, family parking and pause points were introduced, along with a temporary soft play area, while the lower ground floor was being reconfigured into a dedicated family zone.

Wild Cubs

The new family zone includes a 118sqm interactive ‘Wild Cubs’ kids play area - the first of its kind in the UK - which provides a safe and educational space for children to slide, crawl and climb through while parents can take a break and look on as their kids explore. An interactive LED lighting system responds to human touch with changing colour, brightness and patterns, and an immersive art panel for painting, drawing and puzzles, all of which contribute to a state-of-the-art facility. Ambience improvements were also completed to create a warm, inviting and stimulating zone to encourage our guests to spend time and interact.

We’re very excited to be opening a store at The Exchange, it’s going to be a really good year for us there I think. The work that C&R have done for a family focussed zone is quite measurable. There’s a lot of time and money being spent on it and they’re quite clear on what they want to achieve in driving families into their centres and creating an experience.

Head of Property, The Entertainer.

Changing places facility

In September we launched the second set of family facilities, including a gold-award winning Changing Place Facility, enhanced accessible toilets that meet the needs of people with profound learning and physical disabilities. A new Guest Lounge has also been created providing a Click and Collect service together with changing room facilities.

The reconfigured family zone area has allowed Costa Coffee to be relocated next to the play area, and we have relocated independent retailer Kidz Zone into an adjacent unit. To further enhance the family zone, The Entertainer will be opening a new store in 2019 from a unit that has previously been vacant for a number of years.

Delivering results


  • Footfall increased +4.1% vs the national index of -4.8%, in the 5 weeks week following the launch of new guest facilities
  • Footfall +1.4% in 2018 vs 2017, compared to national index of -3.5%