Buttermarket Centre transformation: Pure Gym launches today and Empire cinema due to open by Christmas

Empire cinema is due to open at the Buttermarket by Christmas.

Empire cinema is due to open at the Buttermarket by Christmas. - Credit: Archant

Christmas shoppers in Ipswich this winter will be able to take time out from present hunting to enjoy a movie in a new Empire cinema.

Pure Gym is opening to members for the first time today.

Pure Gym is opening to members for the first time today. - Credit: Archant

The 12-screen film theatre is due to open within the regenerated Buttermarket Centre before the end of the year.

The announcement was made during a showcase by Capital & Regional and Drum Property Group yesterday of the progress made since they bought the centre last year.

The multi-million pound transformation has already seen restaurants Prezzo, Coast to Coast and Cosy Club open for business, with Wagamama and Byron Burgers joining them on October 10.

Today fitness hub Pure Gym will welcome its first members, and a family entertainment centre, which will include a bowling alley, is scheduled to be completed by next spring.

Ken Ford, executive director at Capital & Regional.

Ken Ford, executive director at Capital & Regional. - Credit: Archant

The St Stephen’s Lane entrance and facade has also had a complete redesign to reposition the former shopping complex as a leisure and retail venue.

Leader of Ipswich Borough Council, David Ellesmere, said the new-look centre looked “fantastic” inside and out.

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He added: “It’s a really significant investment for Ipswich and a real vote of confidence in the town.

“This will bring more life into the town centre in the early evening when the town used to just go asleep around 5pm.

“I think it will be a success and it is going to stimulate more investment in the town.”

Andrew Wilcox, centre manager, who has worked at the Buttermarket since 2003, said the transformation was “wonderful” and had massively increased footfall.

“I think because we are actually offering something new into Ipswich it will enhance not just the centre but the whole shopping and leisure experience for everyone coming into town,” he said.

“All the names are new names to Ipswich and that’s not just good for us but wonderful for the town and the residents of Ipswich and everyone in the area so I think it is positive all-round.

“I hope this will bring further investment to the rest of the town.”

Leading the presentation yesterday was Ken Ford, executive director at Capital & Regional.

Mr Ford said both he and bosses from Drum Property Group were looking for further opportunities to invest their money in Ipswich.

“The business environment and atmosphere in Ipswich is so positive that it would be folly for us not to try and see if something more can be done here,” he added.

“I think the local authority and Ipswich Central should take credit. The financial pressures businesses and government have been under since the financial crisis can not be underestimated but through these very difficult times, both ourselves and the leadership of Ipswich, responded well and we have been able to deliver something like this and this could well become a catalyst for further regeneration in the town centre.”

Mr Ford said the new-look Buttermarket had been brought into the 21st Century with its retail offering and design.

He said: “We saw strong potential in Ipswich and the Buttermarket in particular when we acquired it in March last year. Since then we have worked hard to expand, modernise and reposition Buttermarket as a first class retail and leisure venue for the people of Ipswich and those visiting the town.”

There are still some empty units in the Buttermarket that are available to let, but Mr Ford said he hoped it would be 100% occupied by Easter.

The developers bought the centre in March 2015 for £9.2million.

As well as introducing new names, several retailers that already had a space in the centre have stayed on, including Boots, Grape Tree and Deesigner Hair Studio. TK Maxx and New Look have moved to new and improved units within the complex.

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