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Banana Tree becomes the final piece of the puzzle for LaSalle at High Chelmer

A taste of Indochina has become the final piece in the puzzle for LaSalle Investment Management in the multi-million pound ‘The Exchange’ development at Chelmsford’s High Chelmer Shopping Centre.

Once open, Banana Tree will mark the end of nearly three years of redevelopment and enhancement of the shopping centre, and the purpose-built food quarter, The Exchange, represents the single biggest investment and addition to the centre since it opened 45 years ago.

“Banana Tree is the final part of a very important chapter in the growth and expansion of High Chelmer,” said National Director for LaSalle Investment Management, Steve Bateman.

“We started work on the latest phase of redevelopment and enhancement of the centre back in April of 2014 and since then it has undergone extensive improvements, including upgrading of mall entrances, new lighting, relaying of all the floors, installation of award-winning photovoltaic solar panels and the addition of a number of new stores including Next. The Exchange was the important final piece of the puzzle for High Chelmer, and Banana Tree is the finishing touch of that piece.

“We now have a centre that boasts a food quarter with a great range of names and more than 93,000 sq ft of quality retail space with blue chip retailers such as Next, Topshop, Boots, Primark, Smiggle, HMV and Superdry to name just a few. As well as giving the people of Chelmsford an enhanced leisure offering, we’ve also been able to play a part in creating more than 150 local jobs which is really important to us as it underlines our commitment and confidence in investing in Chelmsford as a community.

“Once phase two of the redevelopment and enhancement works were complete and we moved onto The Exchange, four high calibre restaurant brands – Carluccio’s, Bourgee, Côte Brasserie and Turtle Bay – bought into the vision for the centre as they could see first-hand the work that had already been done and how High Chelmer was growing organically.”

James Welling, Director and co-owner of Bourgee said opening at High Chelmer was a hugely important and pivotal decision that he and business partner, Mark Baumann, had made for the growing restaurant brand. “We’re embarking on the process of national expansion and we are delighted to have invested in Chelmsford at The Exchange. The growth of High Chelmer was a very attractive proposition to be a part of and something that made solid business sense.
 
“Chelmsford has a young, vibrant population, with close links to London and an ever-growing catchment. Seeing the plans for The Exchange ticked a number of boxes for us and we’re excited to see what the future holds for Bourgee at The Exchange. Since we opened the venue, the welcome from locals and levels of business have been staggering – this really has been a fantastic advancement for the brand”

Following on from a successful first few months of trading for the original four eateries, growing Pan Asian restaurant group Banana Tree swiftly signed up to become the fifth and final addition to The Exchange.

“Almost immediately after the first four restaurants opened we were approached by Banana Tree about them bringing their unique take on Pan Asian food to Chelmsford and becoming the location for their ninth outlet,” added Steve. “For everyone involved it was a real confirmation that our confidence and investment in the scheme was very much justified.”

Councillor Neil Gulliver, Chelmsford City Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development, said, “It’s great to see so much choice for visitors to the city centre. Chelmsford is not just somewhere you come to shop – it’s a destination where you can find a diverse selection of food, entertainment, and attractive spaces in which to spend your time. I am very pleased to welcome Banana Tree to the city.”

In the first Christmas period since opening, The Exchange played a crucial role in the record number of visitors welcomed to High Chelmer with 1.1 million shoppers coming through the doors during the festive period, well above the national benchmark for shopping centres across the UK.

“It’s a really exciting time for everyone involved with High Chelmer.” said Steve Bateman. “Banana Tree is just weeks away from opening but we’re always looking at ways we can continue to reinforce and underline High Chelmer as the shopping and dining destination for Chelmsford.”