A BRAND new two-level Zara store has opened its doors at Lakeside - with the shopping centre announcing its £72million leisure development will open this month.

The new 35,000 sq ft store, which is three times bigger than the previous store and filled with high tech features to improve the shopper’s experience, is now one of Zara’s biggest stores in the South East and officially opened on Friday.

Lakeside will also open its doors to a £72million leisure development starting with Hollywood Bowl this month.

Other leisure facilities at Lakeside will include Nickelodeon Adventure family entertainment centre, Puttshack mini golf, Flip Out trampolining and a host of new restaurants including Zizzi and TGI Fridays.

To accompany this, Lakeside will also welcome “The Hall”, a new food hall concept with indoor and outdoor seating for hundreds of people coupled with vibrant food and drink pop-ups.

The next year has been branded as very important with the retail sector facing continued difficulties.

Howard Oldstein, regional centre director at Lakeside, said: “This is a big year for intu Lakeside and shoppers across the South East of England.

“We are excited to welcome bigger stores from international brands, as well as our brand-new leisure facility, as this will give our customers more choice and also help us to provide them with the best shopping and leisure experience possible.”

According to Zara, the new store has a very clean and ultra-modern look which makes it easier for customers to find their best fashion items.

It also features self-checkout tills and automated online order collection points, which highlights Zara’s efforts to create a new generation of stores to complement their online offer.

Zara, known for its fast fashion trends, has a full range of womenswear, menswear, kidswear and accessories now all in one store at the Lakeside base.

When it opens later in the spring this year, The Hall at Lakeside will take 14,500 sq ft and the site will include seven kitchens, a coffee shop, pop-up areas for food trucks, two bars and seating for up to 680 people.

This area of the centre has been years in the making, with bosses hoping it offers something alternative for shoppers.