The final preparations are underway for the opening of the £160 million designer outlet at Mill Green, which will be welcoming customers from 10am on the first day that non-essential shops are allowed to reopen.
There will be no grand opening or ribbon cutting due to the pandemic, which has already delayed the centre opening by a year, but a raft of heavyweight brands will be ready to welcome shoppers from across the West Midlands.
Visitor numbers are being limited to encourage social distancing, meaning a maximum of 2,100 customers will be allowed in the centre at one time.
Centre manager Mike Thomas said: "Our new centre brings together some of the world’s most sought-after brands across the fashion, lifestyle and food and beverage sectors.
"When we officially open the doors to customers next week, they can enjoy a host of premium designer labels, including Ted Baker, Lacoste and Tommy Hilfiger.
"They can also expect a fantastic mix of much-loved brands, such as Beauty Outlet, Superdry and Yankee Candle.
"We have an exceptional line-up of sportswear and athleisure brands that features Adidas, Under Armour and Skechers, while rounding off our first collection of F&B operators is Starbucks and Five Guys.
"Customers can look forward to more exciting arrivals in the coming weeks, including the highly-anticipated openings of Nike, Asics, Wagamama and The Cosmetics Company."
But due to the coronavirus pandemic no opening day special discounts will be offered, and all events planned for open spaces have been cancelled this year.
Mr Thomas added: "While we will be unable to host any events this year due to our health and safety measures, in the future we will certainly use our piazza and other public spaces to host many memorable guest events as we do at our centres throughout the UK and Europe.
"To make sure we protect the health and wellbeing of all our customers we won’t be offering any special opening day discounts but as with all McArthurGlen designer outlets, there will be year-round savings of up to 60 per cent and we will regularly host additional promotions and events when the time is right. Customers should also often check our Facebook and Instagram pages for any special giveaways we are running."
The original September 2020 opening was moved to spring 2021 because of coronavirus, but the construction was completed on time, Mr Thomas said.
Nearby roads have been ripped up and routes changed to accommodate the shopping centre, which was first given planning permission back in 2016.
Mr Thomas added: "
Everyone involved with the project has done a fantastic job creating a safe working environment during this challenging period and keeping the completion of the build on time. We did have to move our planned opening last autumn to allow our brand partners a little more time to organise their existing retail operations and this has proved vital in helping them to prepare for next week’s opening."
The centre will at first be operating at a limited capacity to encourage social distancing.
Mr Thomas explained: "
For those visiting by car, a team of parking marshals will be on site to help improve traffic flows into the centre and around the car park, and we’ve also set up a large marquee at the main clock tower entrance to cover guests if they have to queue to enter.
"Because of these important measures, we strongly encourage customers to visit during our quieter times to avoid any queues, which they can find on our social media channels and website.
"Other health and safety measures that our guests will see in place to protect their health and wellbeing include hand sanitiser stations throughout the mall, complimentary face masks in guest services, social distancing signs in the centre, queue management systems, as well as increased cleaning rotas."
About 7,500 people applied for jobs at the centre, 700 of which will be employed as of next week.
Mr Thomas said: "We’re incredibly proud that Designer Outlet West Midlands will create 1,000 new jobs for the community, providing crucial employment for roles in retail, centre management and service providers.
"To date, we’ve had huge interest in the broad range of job opportunities at the centre, with some 7,500 people having already applied for positions. Around 700 people will be employed in our centre on opening and we expect this number to rise as we welcome more exciting brands.
"We’re also delighted to say that our partnership with Walsall College in launching the Retail Skills Academy has led to over 150 individuals completing the programme, with five candidates securing employment offers within the centre.
"This is a brand new £160 million fashion destination, it’s created hundreds of new jobs so far, and we expect it to support around £20 million of employment income each year.
"We are also bringing iconic international brands to the region that will play a vital role in attracting visitors from across the UK. We see ourselves very much as a complementary offer to the fantastic businesses in the surrounding towns, and will continue to work closely with our partners at Cannock Chase Council to ensure we provide the West Midlands with a thriving retail sector."
Mr Thomas added: "It feels like it’s been a long time coming but we’re thrilled to finally be opening our new designer outlet and bringing our exceptional McArthurGlen experience to customers in the West Midlands. Thank you to our fantastic team who have worked around the clock to make sure the centre is ready to welcome guests in a safe and secure open-air environment – and we truly hope we introduce a new destination that the whole community can be proud of."
The centre will be open from 10am-8pm Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm Saturday and 10am-6pm on Sundays.