intu Watford is Delivering a Unique Customer Experience

As the retail landscape evolves, it is no longer good enough for shopping centres to be places to simply buy stuff - they must span beyond the traditional offer by creating an all-encompassing retail and entertainment destination. As customers seek out more of these immersive experiences, destinations need to work harder than ever to stay competitive and relevant.

This move to experiences over traditional shopping trips has never been truer and it would appear intu, the UK’s largest retail hub saw this coming. In June 2015, plans for a £180 million redevelopment at intu Watford Charter Place shopping centre was announced, and in September this year the impressive, large scale extension officially opened. We were delighted to have played a major part in the exciting transformation of this new retail and leisure destination by delivering key cladding and brand signage. 

With its setting in one of North London’s most popular commuter towns, intu Watford attracts a huge number of visitors from the local area and busy surrounding London boroughs, making it one of the UK’s top 20 retail destinations. As consumers continue to seek out more immersive experiences that go beyond traditional shopping trips, enriching the whole customer experience was at the heart of the plans for this new centre. It proudly hosts new public spaces for day to night entrainment, eating out, events, and, by joining all of that with a modern array of retail units, it delivers so much more than just a shopping centre. Intu Watford is Place Branding.

Merson Groups role in this project extends over two key areas; cladding and signage. Our cladding team were appointed by Prater on behalf of intu to deliver roughly 5000m2 of panels, plus related ancillary flashings and support structure. Working closely with Praters design team, we decided that using our new 2mm Aluminium Wallplank System was the ideal solution. Using this allowed us to use a combination of three colours; anodic gold, bronze and silver, which when coated by the expertise of Powdermasters created a visually striking effect. 

Our signage team was appointed to deliver the all-important ‘intu Watford’ letters that can be seen at various places on the building’s exterior. As intu secures its spot as the largest shopping network in the UK, the black and orange lettering has become instantly recognisable, so we knew how important it was to adhere to the intu brand guidelines. Our close relationship with Laing O’Rourke on the technical elements was key to us ensuring the signage perfectly met the brief. In addition, we carried out extensive design modelling to ensure our signage solution would tie in with many of the buildings features, such as the steelwork, bracketry and cladding.

intu Watford was a complex project, not least because it involved working in a busy town centre, close to housing, and, on a building that remained open to the public throughout. The overall investment from intu into how the buildings materials, colours, lighting and signage worked together went beyond the newly constructed extension, and saw the existing buildings repurposed, reclad and refreshed to create a whole immersive brand experience.

This stunning project is a great example of how a unique public space can transform an area. This timeline by intu Watford illustrates brilliantly the transformation and scale of this redevelopment.

Enjoy a look around our other projects here.