There was a carnival atmosphere in the Harpur Centre this weekend as they unveiled their new look interior to the sound of carnival drums and sight of colourfully dressed dancers.
With a new glass lift replacing the spiral plus electronic signage, wi-fi, laptop and mobile charging ports and more daylight coming into the centre, the Harpur Centre is embracing the needs of the 21st century shopper.
Centre Manager, Samantha Laycock said: “We are so proud to have unveiled the Harpur Centre’s highly anticipated refurbishment at our exciting carnival celebration.
“Our investment programme has been a fundamental part of our vision for the future and ensuring that our visitors have the best shopping experience possible.”
And commenting on the removal of the spiral – a feature that many Bedfordian shoppers fondly remember running down or meeting friends at the bottom of in their youth – Samantha said while she was sad to see it go, its time had come.
“It has been an iconic part of the Harpur Centre journey,” said Samantha. “But for the first time ever, the basement has light, we’re going to make a nice seating area down there, you can plug in your phones, plug in your lap tops and meet your friends down there again.
“The whole idea of this was to future proof Bedford, future proof the building and bring us into the 21st century.”
Mayor Dave Hodgson officially ‘opened’ the new look centre by cutting a ribbon of the brand new glass lift that was made in Italy.
Meanwhile, James Burchell from owners, Tellon Capital added the new look interior is not just about retail: “Shopping centres are about having an experience. We wanted to create a centre that is relevant to today’s world but is fit for all generations.
“It’s a shopping environment that people will want to come and spend time in.”
The interior revamp is also just the start, with an external facelift expected in the future. “We’re going to give the businesses here a break from building work for a bit,” added James. “We’ll then be working with them to realise a new look exterior to the Harpur Centre.”
But it wasn’t just centre managers that got involved with the unveiling. WHSmith hosted a Gruffalo hunt. Bruno’s Brazilian Soccer Club played games with visitors, and Tilly’s Teashop, set up a cake stand.
Further changes in the Harpur Centre include, a revitalised central atrium known as the Harpur Tree, a lift and new stairway from the car park, refreshed ceilings and floor finishes and even new décor.
New customer toilets and a brand new open area have also been added to the refurbished lower ground floor.