Bluewater re-launches its ‘Made in Bluewater’ initiative, encouraging young people to help shape the future of retail

Bluewater’s enterprise challenge, Made in Bluewater, launched on Tuesday 23rd January, with The Leigh Academy and The Leigh UTC taking part. This is the third time that the competition has run, with a team from The Leigh UTC named as the most recent victors in March 2023.

The ‘Made in Bluewater’ challenge has been given a refresh for 2024, with a totally new project for students to get involved with. The brief invites participants to reimagine and repurpose a vacant unit for the benefit of the Kent community and guests. Students took part in three workshops focused on: placemaking; customer insights and guest experience; and sustainability, community and responsible consumerism, before designing their retail space.

The teams will then be invited to pitch their ideas to an expert panel, applying the principles gained during the workshops. Pitches will cover all aspects of creating a sustainable retail space, from establishing their concept, understanding their key audience, to how they would design and market the space. The final presentations will include:

  • A labelled diagram of their proposed concept
  • Mood boards and branding for the retail space
  • Survey questions for customer research
  • Example social media content
  • Key points on sustainability of the unit

‘Made in Bluewater’ looks to highlight the the pivotal role that the younger generation can play in shaping the retail landscape as a dynamic force for positive change within communities. The challenge encourages young people not only to envision innovative retail spaces, but also to consider the broader impact retail space has on the local community. In recent years, physical retail space has become more about experiences than ever before, with shopping centres developing into social hubs that strengthen their communities.

The school engagement project is a joint venture between Bluewater, its parent company Landsec, and Ahead Partnership, and is funded by the Landsec Futures Fund. The recently launched £20m social impact fund is dedicated to enhancing social value in the communities it serves. With the launch of this challenge for 2024, 30 Kent-based students will be positively impacted by the Landsec Futures Fund.

James Waugh, Centre Director at Bluewater, said: “The insight that we can gain from the students’ perspectives through ‘Made in Bluewater’ is invaluable to the successful future planning for Bluewater. Listening to the opinions of the younger generation helps us continue to bring compelling retail experiences to our guests, that reflect their needs and interests. We are looking forward to the final presentations in March, to see what innovative ideas have come from the participants.

“Working with Ahead Partnership, who have already supported over 10,000 young people through their continued partnership with Landsec, helps us ensure that the work we’re doing has a tangible impact within our local community. Through the ‘Made in Bluewater’ initiative, individuals are also building self-confidence and skills to help them develop their own career paths.”

Georgina Johnson, Programme Manager at Ahead Partnership, said: “We’re delighted to be delivering the third ‘Made in Bluewater’ challenge. The feedback we received from the last group of participants demonstrates the importance of giving young people the opportunity to learn directly from employers. We’re so grateful to the team at Bluewater for continuing to commit their time, wisdom, and skills to support young people in their community with this interactive and creative challenge.  

“It’s especially important that we give young people opportunities to visit and experience workplaces so that they can face the future with more confidence.”

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