The Xscape snowslope-cum-mall in Milton Keynes is expected to attract 6 million visitors in its first year, more than the Dome at Greenwich. The Action Bikes store on site is trading at double its target. Can other IBDs get a slice of this experiential retailing?

Theres no business like snow business

They can if they get their proverbial skates on. There are four other Snowdomes in the planning stages and they will be seeking to attract not the Tescos or Marks and Sparks of this world, but destination independent retailers with attitude.

Weekends are manic, Damian Crease of the Xscape Action Bikes told BikeBiz in August (p. 15, issue 11). The mix of retail, theme bars, restaurants, fitness centres, cinemas and cental attraction of a 170m ski-slope, attracts a clientele thats active, healthy and, if not always chronologically youthful, at least young at heart. In short, a perfect customer base for an IBD.

Capital & Regional, the developers of Xscape, want to build a similar snowdome at Castleford in Yorkshire by 2003 and are eyeing up sites for two further Xscapes.

Another developer has already received planning permission for a £50 million snow-plus-retail-plus-entertainment complex in Salford, Greater Manchester. This will also include a climbing wall and, like the Tisos Outdoor Experience store in Glasgow, an ice-climbing wall. Unlike the Xscape ski-slope which is boxy and bereft of anything remotely Alpine the Salford ski-centres slope will be Swiss-themed with trees, wooden terraces and chalet-like buildings overlooking the skiers. It should be open by 2003.

It may pay IBDs seeking to re-locate, or open up new outlets, to check out the potential in the new retail/entertainment complexes that look likely to spead like wildfire in the next few years.

The Tamworth Snowdome, which opened in 1994, majors on the skiing and snowboarding but neglects retailing or other entertainment draws. The new breed of Snowdomes will be hybrids, able to attract a cross-over audience of enthusiasts through to couch potatoes.

Whilst only 2 percent of UK adults ski regularly, everybody shops and the retailers in a snowdome complex dont have to be ski- or snowboard orientated.

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