With international travel impacted throughout the pandemic, the group activated its local catchments and saw resilient performance from domestic and European tourism.
The company also noted a significant change in consumer spending habits. Across all 26 of its centers, customers have come back with a stronger intent to purchase which is also driving performance: Since the centers re-opened, each guest is spending over 11% more during their visit vs 2019.
“After the pandemic we have benefitted from a renewed desire from customers to enjoy the emotional connection of shopping, and the demand from our local catchment has been stronger than ever. The all-important Christmas period is still to come, and we feel positive about 2021 and beyond,” said Susie McCabe, Co-CEO.
Progress at Designer Outlet Paris-Giverny
Their 27th development, Designer Outlet Paris-Giverny, is set to open in early 2023. The group will invest more than €200M into the project, located 45 minutes from Paris. It wills span 20,000 sq m of retail space and 70% of the 100 available units are already either leased or in advanced negotiations.
Together with designer Mathieu Lehanneur the architectural concept of an artisan village (Maison des Métiers d’Art) was developed and will feature and promote local craftsmanship.
Designer Outlet West Midlands
In April this year, the group opened a new standalone shopping center, located just 30 minutes from Birmingham, the nation’s second largest city.
Nick Brady, Group Managing Director, Leasing said: “On the doorstep of one of the most affluent and densely populated catchments in the UK, the center welcomed over 1.5M guests in its first six months of trade. Plans for Phase II of this unique shopping destination are now underway, presenting brands with an exciting opportunity to capitalize on this new center’s success.”
Home to brands including Coach, Calvin Klein, Kate Spade, Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss, and global hospitality brands such as Five Guys, Pizza Express, Wagamama and Starbucks, Phase I of the center is now over 80% committed, with several new stores set to open this year.
One year of Designer Outlet Málaga
In February, the outlet in the south of Spain celebrated its first anniversary. In the first year, the center welcomed nearly 3.5 million guests, despite the interruptions to trading caused by national lockdowns. Today, the center is almost 100% leased with brands such as Prada, Armani, and Furla.
June 2021 saw the completion of a €40 million investment plan in Designer Outlet Serravalle, near Milan. The new phase includes six retail units, a renovated guest services lounge, parking, and a dedicated 6,000 sq m ‘Play Land’.
Designer Outlet La Reggia has recently opened its new €30 million Phase III, featuring 25 new units and spanning 5,000 sq m.
Following a successful trial in four of its centers, in October 2021, the group launched its ‘Recycle Your Fashion’ project across its entire portfolio, providing guests with more sustainable end-of-life options for their garments. The initiative, part of a significant partnership with CTR Group, delivers a circular recycling scheme with 100% of clothing donations reused, re-worn or recycled. All of the proceeds from each bag of recycled garments are donated to a center’s chosen local causes.
The program is part of a larger Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitment which will see the group aim to recycle 25 tons of clothing by 2022/23.
New digital services
The group has introduced new digital services to enable omni-channel shopping experiences.
Click & Reserve–a digital product platform, currently being trialed at Cheshire Oaks. Created in partnership with Shopify, brands can showcase their collections, while customers can create their multi-brand basket, reserve the products they like online and then pay and collect in store.
Booking System–digital appointment scheduling and queue management system enabling guests to book times to shop in participating stores via their smartphone and removing the need to physically queue or book their appointment for a dedicated shopping session. The group is also trialing a new system in Serravalle, more focused on services and supporting the launch of its new Play Land.
Dropit–app-based, handsfree shopping service allowing customers to drop off their shopping bags and arrange collection/delivery via their smartphone.
Virtual Shopping–allows brands to promote their own bespoke services (virtual video appointments, WhatsApp selling, digital catalogues) via their dedicated brand pages. More than 300 brands are participating with almost 700 stores supporting this service.