Posts Tagged ‘Westfield Stratford’

On Friday 27th April Westfield is expecting a very special kind of visitor. A visitor who’s been on longer than average journeys abroad – into space to be precise. His name is Paolo Nespoli and he was in space as recently as May 2011 as part of Soyuz Expedition 27. He is also one of the astronauts responsible for some truly stunning photographs whilst he’s been in space:

Vesuvio, Italia, May 17, 2011

Paolo is part of the brilliant Mission X project that has been running internationally, and across the UK, over the last three months The culmination of the project is a visit to Cumberland School where students will be taking part in events and exercises celebrating the Mission X project completion. Delegates from ten of the other participating countries will be present and Paolo will be taking part in a live NASA webcast throughout the afternoon.

SCEP became involved as part of the tour for delegates included a visit to Westfield to understand about the regeneration in the area and see how the Olympic Park was shaping up. I adapted one of SCEP’s Westfield tours to be suitable for a substantial group of, largely, non-English speaking delegates. I ensured the tour would not only encompass the Olympic Park and the massive regeneration of the area, but also the size and scope of the Westfield development itself and its considerable efforts to be sustainable and energy efficient.

Now – all we need is some fine weather for next Friday and we’re laughing . . .


Today I took a group of students from Newham College of Further Education on a tour of Westfield to look at the shop brands and understand a little about how they came into being.

We started with a list of ten shops and a grid with ten dates in it ranging from 1864 to 2009. First task was to decide which shop brands were the oldest and which ones were only a few years old, but were still big enough to be in Westfield. Then we went to each shop and talked about who founded it and why and – which I find fascinating – what age the founder was when they established the brand. Some started as young as 18 – others were well into their 40’s or 50’s. The average being mid 30’s.

Even more interesting was the variety of reasons the founders had for starting their business. For some it was an extension of their job or trade. Some needed to make money and decided to open a shop. Some people saw a business opportunity And some people did it because they simply loved making things and selling them.

So the upshot and learning we have for this to inform us how best to start a brand? Er.. there isn’t a formula I’m afraid. But Sharmadean Reid, owner of the newest brand Wah Nails,  has done particularly well in a relatively short space of time…

Sharmadean Reid

That's where we're a-heading!

Yesterday I ran a very intensive session at Westfield. I had the pleasure of five Year 10 students from Eastlea School who had permission to come to the centre for the morning with the lovely Sajida Raja of 15Billion. These young people had been specially selected as their attendance was becoming an issue with the school. My role was to help encourage them to see a bigger picture about what they could achieve, school being a key part of their plans for success.

We looked around the centre and discussed how some of the shops were born out of  ‘failure’ (check out Foyles history), how some had been accidentally successful (Forever 21) and how some had simply grown from a single service (John Lewis). We watched people queuing up to get into shops as soon as they opened, keen to spend their money. We noticed how shops enticed visitors to spend more and talked about credit cards and what they really represent. Looking at the Olympic site from inside John Lewis’ and then outside (bracing wind!) we discussed all the new developments that are coming to the area and how they were all perfectly poised to take advantage of them . . . if they wanted to.
I put to the group that were Four Secrets to Success that could help them make the most of themselves:
  1. Get to know yourself – be aware of what you love doing and what you need to learn to be even more effective
  2. Understand what you need to do to get what you want – understand the system you’re in and make it work for you.
  3. Find people who are doing what you want to do. Watch and listen to what they’re doing and copy them.
  4. Never, ever give up. By this I mean settle into something you don’t like because you think there are no alternatives. Ask for help, review your ideas, check your habits DO SOMETHING.

We also discussed what were good habits (getting up in time to go to school!) and less helpful ones (not having a pen). And I asked them to think about where would they be in life in five years time if they kept all their bad habits. How about 25 years?

What if they adopted one good habit? How would that change their life in five years? Or over 25 years?

Good questions for anyone to ponder on . . .


My name is Brandon Walsh and I am study BTEC Art at Forest Gate School. Myself and my classmates have been given the chance to take part in a special Dragons’ Den event.

My role is to interview my classmates before and after they have been to see the Dragons. I have to interview the Dragons before the presentation to see how they are feeling and to find out if they think they’re going to like what they are about to see.

On Monday the 12th of December we will be going to Westfield so that the “young apprentices” can pitch their ideas to the Dragons. I don’t think that the groups are achieving their true potential, there are a lot of talented people in my art class and the they are being held back by some students that are not so interested in working. I am the boss of the class at the moment and I have loved this project. I would like to take this opportunity to thank miss (thank you miss). I started this project off (with the help of miss of course) I put the class into groups, made a graph of the ideas and then made them pick the groups they wanted to be in. During this project I have learnt that you need to be a good leader and do not give up, I have loved the project.

There are 4 groups named Games space, Graffiti creator, Art bakery and Cartoonize. Just before their presentation I asked each of the groups how they were feeling, here are their replies:

Games space said: “Excited, might go somewhere with our idea”

Cartoonize said: “It’s okay”

Graffiti creator said: nothing

Art bakery said: nothing

Looking forward to Monday!

. . . Our friends at John Lewis, Stratford.

Looks impressive . . .

This week we had a really great meeting with Terry Saunders who is the Community Liaison Co-ordinator for John Lewis in Westfield. Terry came with a raft of ideas, aims and plans for how John Lewis can work with SCEP and NEBP. We had a most enjoyable hour or so matching up John Lewis’s objectives with services that NEBP offer and then thinking up some more projects we could develop.

I, of course, am very keen to develop a game and think I may have found the very angle I have been looking for. How about a game based around all the activities that are involved in the running of a department store? It would be great to include a wide range of job roles, both on the shop floor and behind the scenes, then subject them to various daily scenarios to see how, as a staff team, they cope . . .

Next week a group of students from Rokeby School will be visiting Westfield at the as part of their GCSE Geography coursework. They will be there to make comparisons between the Stratford Shopping Centre and Westfield, observing the how each serve the needs of the local population. Should make interesting reading!

I was unable to accompany the tour but put together some materials to allow them to do a self-tour. As I walked through the proposed tour last Tuesday I thought I’d take some photos to illustrate the various points. Looking back on the photos as I put the tour together I laughed as it was so dreary, rainy and dark that day.

Not the best day for a photoshoot!

I think I should nip around again when the weather is a bit brighter so that at least the tour photos will be cheery whatever the weather on the day of the tour.

I will add the tour materials to this blog under Projects above.

I spent Friday afternoon focussing on the content of the visual merchandising project currently in development – recently re-named Project:Realisation. I thought ideally it would be great to link in with a major retailer within Westfield and, amazingly, I bumped into the very person I needed to see at the opening of Skills Place Newham a couple of weeks back.

I was on an education / business development course some years ago and met Jane England who worked for John Lewis Partnership. Amazingly she is now working at Westfield and recognised me when we bumped into each other at Skills Place (it’s my hair – probably the only reason to have ‘interesting’ hair is that people remember you!) So that was a lovely chance meeting that enables me now to say that I very much hope John Lewis will be our showcase store for the VM project.

John Lewis at Stratford City
I took the opportunity to look around the store on Friday and, of course, it was brimming with different examples of VM in action. From traditional, very attractively laid out, shelving, to a ceiling installation in various departments with a collection of hanging ‘hands’ holding key merchandise. John Lewis have been in the business for such a long time – and through so many different economic climates – that they really know their shoppers, and what appeals to them.
I’m back in the John Lewis store meeting Jane tomorrow and can’t wait to hear what ideas she’ll add to the mix . . .

Even on my days off Newham is never far away!

I took a days leave last week to attend a networking meeting with a difference. A business contact of mine called up and said he was hosting a meeting on a barge in Hemel Hempstead and thought it would be my kind of thing. As it happened I had a meeting scheduled in Hemel that afternoon so, being ever ready for something different, I found myself on a barge with fifteen or so complete strangers floating gently down The Grand Union Canal rather than battling the M11 rush hour traffic.

The event was hosted by a wonderful charity called Reach Out Plus

Reach Out Plus

Before you decide that you don’t tune into this blog to hear all about my life outside of Newham then read on, everything I do relates back to SCEP in some way.

One of the people on the boat that day was a professional Philosopher called John Turner (Metathink) who amusingly muddled with the minds of us mere mortals. The upshot being it all tied in very nicely with the kind of thinking I would like to introduce into SCEP’s Imagine project. John told me that one of Newham’s primary schools, Gallions, had philosophy in its curriculum and I then went on to find a whole website devoted to philosophy aimed at children in schools: Philosophy for Children

Watch this space to see where it all fits in . . .

Last week I went to the opening of The Skills Place and it was amazing. Located in a very prominent building, right at the entrance to Westfield, The Skills Place offers a wide range of training opportunities related to the retail sector.

Not only is the suite of rooms fabulously designed with training and conference facilities but also offer a replica shop environment, a cafe / coffee bar and a recording studio where hands on experience can be acquired.

The Skills Place Newham

And it’s only when you look a bit closer at the workings of such a vibrant environment like Westfield that you realise the number of different work opportunities there are. Because we also have a number of hotels and a large casino on site the training also covers front of house and gaming training. and for those not interested in the limelight (!) there’s a logistics, warehouse and office skills training too. I’m not sure how they’re going to manage to fit it all in.

As far a s SCEP is concerned, I would love to be able to bring students to The Skills Place to show them, not just a fully functioning retail ‘city’ in action, but also the investment being made in each of the people who work there.

I am very much looking forward to seeing it teeming with people keen to learn and making the most of the opportunities around them.

Major fans will be interested to know that there will be a permanent element of Mary at Westfield Stratford City. Within The Skills Place Newham Mary’s Guide to Successful Retailing will be offering all elements of her amazing course to small and medium businesses. I know it’s amazing because I experienced a course in Visual Merchandising yesterday. At Westfield London in actual fact.

For anyone who doesn’t know Mary Portas – here’s a pic:

She's the one in the middle!

 And you can check her out here: Info about Mary

Before participating in yesterday’s Visual Merchandising (VM) course I had been expecting a hands on experience designing displays and demonstrating placement of goods to show them off to their best advantage. But it really wasn’t much like that at all but, in actual fact, delivered information of depth and breadth way beyond what I was expecting. By the end  I felt I had acquired a comprehensive working knowledge of VM and, wandering back through Westfield on my way home, I even had a few moments of delight glancing into shops to check out my knowledge (anyone who knows me would laugh at this as I am certainly not a great ‘shopper’).

The excellent training was delivered by a lovely lady called Shalina Alabaksh. Shalina was a fantastic communicator and brought so much life and practical experience to the training it was like having a personally tailored conversation with an expert concerned only with my complete understanding. Quite a luxury in training experiences!

Anyway – the upshot being that now not only do I feel I can talk with authority about VM to groups of students, but I also have a number of different elements I can add to my project which should neatly fit into other aspects of the curriculum eg: Maths, Design Technology & Art to name but a few.

Can’t wait to try out this project after half term . . .