McArthurGlen 'best thing to happen in Cannock' as shoppers queue from early hours

Dozens of eager shoppers queued for hours outside Cannock's new £160 million designer outlet to be the first through the gates when it opened.

The opening day. Photo: Gerardo Jaconelli
The opening day. Photo: Gerardo Jaconelli

The McArthurGlen Designer Outlet West Midlands opened today to about 80 customers who had been waiting under the marquee for the bargains.

The centre will offer up to 80 brands in its first phase, 41 of which opened this morning with savings of up to 60 per cent.

The Staffordshire shopping village's opening came on the day non-essential retail across England and Wales was allowed to reopen after three months of lockdown.

Across the country, including at the world's biggest Primark in Birmingham, people were lining up in the early hours, desperate to get back to their favourite retailers, pubs and hairdressers.

First in the queue at McArthurGlen were 14-year-old Olivia Hopton, Samuel Cooper and Harry Cantaill, both 15. The trio, who go to Cannock Chase High School, had arrived at 7.30am to get the first pick of the goods.

Samuel said: "It looks like Disneyland in Florida.

"First we're going to Starbucks for a coffee."

First in the queue: Olivia Hopton, Samuel Cooper and Harry Cantaill

Olivia said before the outlet opened she would usually shop in Birmingham or Stafford.

Harry said: "It's the best thing to happen in Cannock. We're going to go in all of the shops."

Beth Birch and Will Harris, both 14 from Norton Canes, had arrived at 7am.

Beth said: "We were standing at the top of the outlet as we didn't know we could get on site until we saw someone drive in.

"We had to get up at 6am. We wanted to get here early for the free Starbucks goodie bag."

Some of the international brands which have opened include Coach, Kate Spade, Hugo Boss, Levi’s, Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess, Calvin Klein, Ted Baker, Reiss, Kurt Geiger, Gant, Radley and Joules.

Sportswear and athleisure brands include Adidas, Under Armour and Skechers, while Starbucks and Five Guys are the first food and beverage brands to open, with their restaurants overlooking the Mill Green Nature Reserve.

Shoppers can also look forward to new arrivals in the coming weeks, including Nike, Wagamama and Asics.

Joanne Williams, from Wednesfield, had taken the day off work as a registrar at Wolverhampton Council to go shopping with her 18-year-old son Sam Probert.

Joanne Williams and her son Sam Probert

Joanne, 51, said: "We've been looking up the shops for a while and keeping up to date with when it will open.

"It is really impressive. We've visited Bicester and Cheshire Oaks before, this reminds me of Bicester."

Sam said he was looking for bargains in Adidas and Lacoste while Joanne was aiming for handbags and cosmetics.

Joanne added: "We've been shopping online and I just miss the shopping experience. It's amazing to see something a bit more upmarket."

The centre also features a children’s adventure playground that’s adjacent to the nature reserve, as well as guest facilities, a dancing fountain, a bespoke sculpture and a Changing Places facility.

Derryn MacMurray, 48, was shopping with her daughters, Lottie, 14, and 12-year-old Jessica who she said have been "dying" for it to open.

Lottie, Derryn and Jessica MacMurray

Derryn, from Cannock, said: "Most of my family are from London and they were going to come up to go shopping when it was first supposed to open, but we thought we'd still go on the opening day.

"It's a really big day for the country today, so you've got to support businesses and get back to normal as much as we can.

"We don't normally have this on our door step so we've got to embrace it.

"We're going to be mooching around for as long as we can."

The centre includes around 400 newly planted trees, along with solar panels, on-site beehives, a wormery, electric car charging points and bicycle parking.

Jo Wyatt, from Brownhills, was at the centre not long after it opened with her daughter Megan, 15.

Jo, 39, said: "We've been looking forward to coming for ages. It's nice to come here rather than having to go to East Midlands.

"It depends on the queues how long we stay as I think it's going to be busy."

The queue growing ahead of the opening

Chase Grammar School teachers Danielle Beirne and Sandra Strzelecki had brought Luanne Boucker, aged five, and nine-year-old Joshua and five-year-old Ethan Beirne.

Danielle said: "The kids have been researching the play area, it looks amazing."

Sandra added: "We're looking for Starbucks for the goodie bags. And I want to go in Le Creuset."

Spanning 285,000 square feet in total over two phases, the centre will create 1,000 new jobs and support around £20 million of employment income each year. A partnership with Walsall College for a new training academy has helped connect local people to job opportunities with the various brands.

Centre manger, Mike Thomas, said: “It’s been a long time coming, but we’re up and running, and we are thrilled to welcome visitors from the local community, the region and even further afield.

"The pandemic has affected every aspect of life, so I’m delighted to be here today, seeing people start their new jobs, seeing visitors safely shopping and enjoying a day out, and seeing the start of what is going to be a shopping and leisure destination that provides our customers with one of the finest retail experiences around.

Manager Mike Thomas opens the centre to the public

"Everybody is having different experiences to open in a pandemic, to have been delayed from last year was a bit frustrating but it's made us stronger.

"We were disappointed but we understood the situation. We need to keep people safe.

"The staff love the location, 75 per cent of the people live within 15 minutes of here, we've got 650 employees so far, when we open fully we will have 1,000 roles.

"More stores are expected to open in the Autumn."

The centre is Bureau Veritas Safeguard Covid-19 certified, with health and safety measures in place to keep customers safe. These include hand sanitiser stations, complimentary face masks in guest services, social distancing signs in the centre, queue management systems and store capacity limits, as well as increased cleaning rotas.

Bob Kean, acting managing director for Cannock Chase Council, said: “Despite the global pandemic, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet West Midlands is open! It looks amazing and we’re immensely proud to have this designer outlet in our district. We look forward to the ongoing benefits it will bring to residents, the area and the local economy.”

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