It’s not all about the offices or even about lunch for the people in them. Canary Wharf is now a retail destination – complete with 51,000 m2 of high-street favourites and stylish boutiques

Once the sole domain of sandwich shops and newsagents, Canary Wharf now offers some of the finest retail therapy in London. Ten years ago, the complex had six shops located in one building – Cabot Place. By September this year, that figure will have rocketed to 200 units – 51,000 m2 of pure shopping pleasure.

The retail explosion started three years ago, when Canada Place opened. The 6800 m2 mall houses fashion outlets, boutiques and the estate’s first department store: Waitrose Food and Home. In this branch of John Lewis, which opened last year, you can do the weekly shop and pick up something for the house before dining at the in-store steak and oyster bar or drinking at the wine bar. And if all that fine dining affects the waistline, above Waitrose is the Reebok Sports Club, Europe’s largest health club, which opened last November.

“What we wanted to do was develop a space where, on a lousy day, you don’t have to go outside at all,” says Camille Waxer, vice-president for retail at Canary Wharf Group. The latest addition to her portfolio certainly fits that requirement. Jubilee Place, which opens in September as part of the Heron Quays development (see pages 64-68), is a 7900 m2 underground mall. Marks & Spencer will be the flagship shop in the 40-unit scheme. It will be joined by Canary Wharf veterans French Connection, Boots and Pret a Manger, together with first-timers such as noodle chain Wagamama and fashion outlets Reiss and Karen Millen.

I love the Nash Court Pavilion because it has transformed the courtyard – what was once a place to pass through is now the place to be seen


Camille Waxer, vice-president of retail, Canary Wharf Group

Waxer describes the expansion as a reflection of the ever-increasing population at Canary Wharf, which now stands at 55,000 people a day during the working week. She says: “As the offices have expanded, so has the retail.” But how does Canary Wharf Group decide who gets to sell their wares to those well-heeled office workers? “We try to reflect the needs and wants of people here,” says Waxer. “Since 1998, we have been carrying out annual surveys of what shops people would like to see, and on the back of those results, we decide which retailers to approach.”

Waxer believes the complex can hold its own against more established shopping centres: “Our shops are obviously far smaller than Bluewater or Lakeside. We can’t compete on that front and we don’t want to steal their customers but, since we opened Canada Place and the Waitrose Food and Home, we are finding that people from outside Canary Wharf will make the trip for the shops alone.” What makes the place different, she says, “is the mix of high-street and independent shops”.

Treasures of the east
Canary Wharf also has dozens of bars, cafes and restaurants, a cinema nearby, two childcare facilities, five car parks and connections to the Jubilee Line and Docklands Light Railway, so it is well set up for a family day out. “Normally you walk out of a mall straight into a car park – how often can you finish shopping and walk into a beautiful park?” says Waxer.

Getting away from it all

Canary Wharf has plenty to offer anyone in search of a sandwich or a colleague’s leaving present – but what about the harassed office worker in desperate need of a holiday?

There are two travel agents on site – Lunn Poly and British Airways Travel Shop – who can sell you seven days half-board in Mauritius (£1089 at BA), flights to Barcelona (£76 at Lunn Poly) and everything in between.

If you need luggage, there’s Waitrose – which has a decent range of those upright suitcases favoured by executive types – or JD Sports for a rucksack.

For a holiday wardrobe, take your pick from Dorothy Perkins, French Connection, Gap, Oasis, Topshop, Ted Baker, Warehouse and so on. Get your sunglasses at Accessorize, David Clulow or Vision Express and pick up toiletries from Boots, the Body Shop, Crabtree & Evelyn or Space NK.

Something to read on the plane can be yours at Books Etc or News on the Wharf. If you prefer music, there’s Dixons for the player and HMV for the album.

And if you can’t face the beach without a new look, get a haircut at Toni & Guy or the Gentry, a manicure at Nails Inc and then get the hell out of the office …