Developers working on plans for in-town shopping centres should consider turning them inside out so that the shops face outwards to help the trading performance of the surrounding retailers.

This is one of the ideas floated by The Changing Face of Shopping Centres which is published by Rawls & Company, the design firm.

The designers, led by Adam Rawls, said: 'Traditionally, shopping centres are closed boxes with little to offer from the outside. Opening up shopping centres would allow retail brands to express themselves externally. In town centres, an open box would allow other associated retailers outside the box to develop and create better integration of the centre into the town.'

Rawls, whose clients include MEPC, Prudential Properties, Bourne End Properties and baa McArthur/Glen, called for the break up of the 'linear string of boxes' which makes up a shopping centre, and declares: 'A more imaginative approach to rental is necessary.'

The designers suggested that retailers should lease units opposite each other, so that the mall which divides the units could become a branded walkway where a cafe could relate directly to the retailers.

Rawls believes that such changes should make shopping centres more attractive to the young and fashion conscious.

'Shopping centres must not allow themselves to become dinosaurs. An imaginative strategy of revitalisation must be combined with an enthusiasm for breaking the mould,' said the report.