Empire cinemas, Wagamama, Five Guys and Prezzo sign up for new look Buttermarket

The Buttermarket Centre will become a �35m entertainment complex

The Buttermarket Centre will become a �35m entertainment complex - Credit: Archant

Cinema giant Empire has signed up for a new £35m leisure complex being created in the Buttermarket Shopping Centre, Ipswich.

The Buttermarket Centre will become a �35m leisure complex

The Buttermarket Centre will become a �35m leisure complex - Credit: Archant

It will operate a 12-screen cinema in the 23-year-old centre which will operate alongside nine family restaurants.

It was revealed earlier this year Empire was the preferred bidder for the cinema, and the final deal was signed at the start of this week.

The restaurants were waiting for the cinema deal to be signed before confirming their presence in the town. They are expected to formally announce they are coming to Ipswich over the next few weeks.

However, illustrations provided by developers Capital & Regional and Drum Property Group show restaurants including Wagamama, Joes Kitchen, Five Guys, Prezzo, and Coast to Coast lined up in the centre.

Wagamama already have a branch in Bury St Edmunds

Wagamama already have a branch in Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant

The Star understands all those brands are planning to open at the same time as the cinema towards the end of next year.

The development also includes a Pure Gym on the site of the former food court overlooking Arras Square.

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Wagamama’s restaurant is expected to be at the entrance to the centre in the unit previously occupied by Jonathan James shoes – and will include a terrace for eating outdoors.

The developers bought the Buttermarket Centre in March for £9.2million and immediately announced plans to rebuild it as a cinema and a centre which mixed leisure with retail.

It has already created a larger unit for New Look – and TK Maxx is due to move to the bottom floor in February next year.

Hugh Scott-Barrett, chief executive of Capital & Regional said: “We are very pleased to announce Empire has committed to Buttermarket, and see this as a key milestone as we move to realise our vision for the centre.

“Town centres are changing and our ‘beyond retail’ strategy speaks to the need for a compelling leisure and food and beverage mix alongside a diverse retail offer.

“These deals represent significant progress towards this aim in Ipswich, and we look forward to welcoming our new occupiers to the town in the near future.”

Graeme Bone, group managing director of Drum Property Group said: “This is a transformative scheme for Ipswich, and we expect the additional footfall generated by the leisure and dining elements to have a widespread economic benefit.”

The news has been welcomed by Ipswich MP Ben Gummer. He said: “This is fantastic news and will really make a difference to the town centre.

“Some of the names that are coming to the Buttermarket are really first-rate and the town is very lucky to have recruited them.”

His views were backed by Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere: “I don’t know if people really understand how transformative this is going to be for the town centre. It will bring the town to life in the evenings – and the new restaurants will help fill the ‘quiet time’ between shops closing and people going out.”

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement said the news was hugely significant for the whole town centre.

He added: “This announcement is the result of months of hard work behind the scenes and represents a wonderful resurgence for the Buttermarket.

“Coming just after the opening of Sailmakers, it is very good news for the town centre all around.”

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