Jumbo fashion outlet set to launch at world’s most popular music venue

Key Points
  • London's O2 arena is getting set to unveil a giant designer fashion outlet as soon as 2018
  • After virtual abandonment post-millennium celebrations, the venue has had an impressive turnaround in recent years
  • Celine Dion, Take That and the Foo Fighters are among those headlining this summer
How London's O2 Arena went from abandonment to success
How London's O2 Arena went from abandonment to success

London's O2 Arena is set to add another attraction to bolster its reputation as a must-visit venue for top entertainers as it works on plans to unveil a giant fashion outlet by the end of next year.

The south London venue which was saved from ignominy after being saddled with white elephant status and virtually abandoned following its stint in the limelight as the 'Millennium Dome' - center of the capital's celebrations to welcome in the new century - has been privately owned by AEG since 2007.

The U.S. sports and entertainment company is now in the thick of constructing a 205,000 square foot retail project destined to become a 95-shop designer fashion outlet along the lines of Oxford's Bicester Village or New York's Woodbury Common.

This initiative is a key part of AEG's broader goal of turning the O2 into an all-day venue offering a spate of different attractions, its president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Europe, Tom Miserendino, told CNBC.

"We've created a place for people to come and congregate and socialize. We're in the process of building out a designer outlet village that will complement and create daytime footfall here to complement all of our nighttime footfall," Miserendino told CNBC who caught up with him in late June inside of the cavernous arena.

"People want to have a destination, they want to have a place that they can go and spend a complete day and night," he asserted, adding that this is why they have recently prioritized technological initiatives, such as a £1 million ($1.3 million) investment into wifi and an ongoing look at maximizing ways visitors can interact using social media tools.

Benjamin Hall | CNBC

Yet recent events in the U.K. capital have led many to argue that London and its tourist attractions may have a tough few years ahead.

Uncertainties around how the U.K.'s exit from the European Union (EU) will play out have caused several domestic economic and corporate voices to issue warnings over a potentially bumpy upcoming ride for British-based businesses.

However, Miserendino says the O2 has not yet seen any signs of a significant drop off in terms of ticket sales due to Brexit.

"We're continuing to see people wanting to have a good entertainment experience. If you offer the right thing people are still willing to spend money," he claimed, adding that the O2 was not among those who took a break from their spending and development plans following the vote.

"We believe in the London market, we believe in the U.K. and are not afraid to invest," he added.

The terrorism challenge, however, which has already reared its ugly head at several points during the first few months of the year, is proving more impactful for AEG.

"We're constantly revising our security procedures and protocol…I think that is going to be part of our lives for the future, particularly for entertainment experiences," said Miserendino, adding that AEG remains determined to lead the agenda on security standards.

"We need to make sure that people feel safe. Perception is reality. We wanted to make sure that we were putting forth the right image for everyone," he added referring to the heightened focus on security at the O2 following the tragic Manchester concert venue attack in late May that resulted in 23 fatalities and dozens of severe injuries.

Benjamin Hall | CNBC

Amid such tragedy, entertainment providers must continue to do their job of bringing momentous experiences to their audiences.

This summer's ten year celebration of the arena's ownership, as well as of its recently renewed sponsorship arrangement with broadband and telecom company O2, has seen anniversary concerts play out across London including in the city's Hyde Park. Ed Sheeran, Celine Dion and Justin Bieber are among some of the headline acts who have graced this summer's stage for the festivities.

Despite having seen hundreds of live performances since he watched Bon Jovi's launch the Arena way back in 2007, Miserendino sounds refreshingly far from being jaded by the job.

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