Boxing matches and wedding fairs will no longer happen at Bluewater after bosses decided to axe its exhibition centre after just three years.
Glow, an events venue which hosted title fights screened on Channel 5 featuring Olympic gold medalist James DeGale, will close after it did not meet “high expectations”.
The shopping centre is in talks with a number of brands about moving into the space left by the attraction, which has also hosted gigs from the likes of the Saturdays, Liberty X, Atomic Kitten and Amelia Lily.
Bluewater has an annual footfall of 27 million shoppers a year but Glow failed to capitalise on this passing trade, welcoming just two million people since it opened.
A timescale has not been set for a new tenant to move into the space next to the shopping centre’s cinema.
Divided into three areas, its upper hall had an arena capable of holding 4,000 people, while its lower hall had a capacity of 1,200. A smaller gallery had a capacity for 150.
However, event organisers were often put off by high prices – which ran into thousands a day – and a lack of facilities like kitchens.
A spokesperson from Bluewater said: “We continually review every aspect of Bluewater to ensure it leads the industry, delivers a unique guest experience, and achieves commercial success that is second-to-none.
“Whilst welcoming more than two million people in three years, Glow did not meet these high expectations.
“Detailed discussions are already underway with a number of leading brands and exciting concepts to create an offer within the space that adds significantly to Bluewater’s unique day-out experience, and delivers an experience 365 days a year, rather than the less frequent nature of standalone events.
“We also remain committed to running events and unique experiences at Bluewater, so are investigating a number of options that will allow Bluewater to continue to offer the very best of what Glow provided, from the Winter Wonderland to consumer shows that complement our wider offer and experience.”
Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce had booked Glow for its North Kent B2B exhibition later this year but were then told they would need to find a new venue.
Chief executive Jo James said: “We were disappointed about the closure because there isn’t any other venue in north Kent that can hold that capacity.
“Kent is definitely lacking a good quality purpose-built conference space.
“Glow was rather expensive. It was a great facility but when you are staging an event the venue is your key cost and you can only afford so much...” - Jo James, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce
“Glow was rather expensive. It was a great facility but when you are staging an event the venue is your key cost and you can only afford so much.”
Darryl Curcher, a freelance wedding photographer from Tunbridge Wells, paid £2,800 to exhibit for three days at a wedding fair at the centre.
He said: “On the business side I did very well but I couldn’t do the following year because the organisers wouldn’t let me do just one day – I had to do the full three.
“They were adamant I couldn’t do it and they lost my business.”
Miranda Chapman, director at Maidstone-based marketing agency Pillory Barn, said: “The challenge for Glow is it’s a plain room and empty space.
“If you are running an event which is more glamourous, you are starting off with just a box and that makes running an event there challenging.”
It is unclear whether jobs would be affected by the change of use at Glow.