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Designer outlets: Discover the rising projects of tomorrow

by Mark Faithfull

While the global Coronavirus pandemic has heavily impacted the tourism that the otherwise flourishing designer outlet sector is a major benefactor of, expansion and extension continues across Europe. In the short-term most of the major operators are turning their focus to local customers, in the anticipation that international movement will resume in the medium- to long-term.

Cernica – Fashion House Group

Fashion House Group opened a second outlet centre in Bucharest in the spring of this year. Situated to the east of the Romanian capital, near Cernica, the new mall has been designed in an ‘Old Bucharest’ architectural style and will include 62 units across 12,600 sq m once fully let. Fashion House – part of developer Liebrecht & wooD - has now delivered six outlets in Central and Eastern Europe, the most recent in St Petersburg, Russia.

                                                                     Tbilisi Outlet Village in Georgian capital

In addition, Tbilisi Outlet Village in Georgian capital Tbilisi, is set to open the first of two phases in spring 2022. It aims to be the number one premium outlet in Eastern Europe and is set to attract seven million visitors in its first three years. Once completed, it will have 111 units, totalling 20,000 sq m, with the first phase 12,500 sq m and 70 units. The scheme is being developed by Georgian Outlets & Resort Group, led by Guram Tsanava and Sandro Kordzakhia, and TORG is leading the development and leasing.

                                                                      Amsterdam the Style Outlets – Neinver

Neinver’s Amsterdam The Style Outlets opened late last year and features 115 stores set across 19,000 sq m GLA, including 1,000 sq m for leisure areas, restaurants with outdoor seating and walkways and gardens. The centre, which is the first outlet centre in the Greater Amsterdam area, has been developed in the Randstad region, one of the wealthiest and most densely populated regions of Europe, benefiting from a catchment area of 12 million people within 90 minutes’ drive. Moreover, the centre is located 10 minutes away from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and with easy access to the Dutch capital and Haarlem, including a railway station a four-minute walk away. The village design of the centre is inspired by traditional Dutch architecture, with an important role for vegetation and natural light. The centre has obtained BREEAM New Construction certification in the design phase.

Meanwhile, McArthurGlen’s expansion programme will continue with two new developments currently under construction: Paris-Giverny Designer Outlet, France and West Midlands Designer Outlet, UK, which opened in April. Also in the UK, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford officially launched its circa 10,000 sq m expansion in November 2019, marking the completion of the centre’s first extension since it opened in 2000. The £90m expansion introduced over 40 new stores, a new food piazza, an events space, a digitally-enhanced children’s playground and 725 additional parking spaces.

In February 2020, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Malaga opened in the south of Spain in partnership with Sonae Sierra. The new shopping destination hosts a mix of European and US brands including Polo Ralph Lauren, Adidas, Karl Lagerfeld, Brooks Brothers, Escada, Tumi, Pal Zileri, Scalpers and Zwilling. The centre is located next to Plaza Mayor, the city’s most-visited shopping centre, and has been designed to reflect local Andalusian architecture.

VIA Outlets reported that it has made more than 300 deals in 2020, showcasing the resilience of the outlet industry during a “difficult year”. Since the start of the global coronavirus pandemic, VIA Outlets has completed more than 110 new deals, has had 117 new store openings and 12 new brands joining its portfolio. In total, new leases, renewals, upsizes and downsizes representing a total area of 43,300 sq m concluded in 2020. This included 12 new brands joining the VIA Outlets portfolio, including American Eagle, L’Oreal, Pinko, Cavalli Class, Samsoe and Samsoe and digital-native Na-Kd.
Otto Ambagtsheer, chief executive at VIA Outlets, said: “Remerchandising is a cornerstone of VIA Outlets’ 3 Rs strategy as it allows us to offer guests an unrivalled mix of the very best international and local brands. Working closely with brand partners has been key during the Covid-19 pandemic and seeing that brands are choosing to renew contracts or take up additional space during this highly unusual year is a great reflection of the brands’ trust in VIA Outlets as a business partner and of the overall resilience of the outlet sector.”

Designer Outlet Cotswolds in Gloucestershire

Cheltenham-based developer Robert Hitchins and European outlet operating company ROS Retail Outlet Shopping have plans for a 195,000 sq ft Designer Outlet Cotswolds in Gloucestershire. It will be opened in two phases and will feature some 90 retail units, restaurants and cafes, opening in 2023. ROS is also managing recently-opened and upcoming schemes in Spain and the CEE.

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