This week, Travel Daily talks to Marcelo Molinari, Group Tourism Director of Value Retail, about the Asian impact on his company’s global collection of retail villages…
Q) What percentage of customers to your Villages are from Asia, and how does this vary from village to village?
At Bicester Village more than 60% of tax refunded sales are generated by guests from the Asia region and, again according to tax refunded sales, guests from Asia are within the top three nationalities across the Collection of Villages.
Q) What are your biggest and fastest-growing Asian source markets?
According to our statistics based on tax refunded sales, visiting nationalities from Southeast Asia and nearby regions on the rise include Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia. The Collection of Villages in Europe has generated consecutive quarters – without exception – of double-digit growth in tax refunded sales since 2006. China represents the top contributing non-EU nationality across the Collection, generating 50% of the tax refunded sales (Jan to Nov 2015), an increase of 35% compared to the equivalent period in 2014. Levels of growth have also been seen from Middle Eastern regions that include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and UAE.
Q) What steps are you taking to drive more visitors from Asia, in terms of promotions, trade initiatives etc?
Value Retail has a marketing, PR and social media presence in its source markets. In addition, we design bespoke campaigns to attract tourists from the Asian markets. We design marketing and PR campaigns that run within our source markets and are aligned with key tourism moments. For example, during Chinese New Year and Golden Week we create exclusive offers for our Chinese guests.
In addition, we feature leading lifestyle and luxury brands that appeal to the Asian tourist. For example, the Villages are constantly evolving the variety and exclusivity of their brands to appeal to the increasingly refined customer. Recent new brands across the Collection include UGG and N Peal at Ingolstadt Village near Munich; Hunter and Givenchy at Bicester Village and Armani and Aquascutum at Kildare Village. We also place a strong emphasis on hospitality and services; therefore, we have implemented incentives such as tax refunded shopping, VIP services, Hands-Free shopping and shopping packages.
On top of all of this we are participating in 2016 SEA, China, HK, Taiwan, Korea sales missions, key trade shows and we host FAM trips in the Villages for targeted trade.
Q) What retail items tend to be most popular among Asian shoppers, and why do you think this is?
Luxury and lifestyle brands offering luggage and handbags are always popular. In particular the heritage brands such as Smythson, Paul Smith and Church’s receive attention due to the appeal of British brands to our Asian guests.
Q) What’s new for the Villages by Value Retail that will appeal to the Asian market?
At Bicester Village in particular the offering to all guests has now increased dramatically. With the introduction of a new all day restaurant farmshop by the Soho House group, and Itsu, a collection of restaurants offering cuisine that celebrates the flavours of the Far East, the gourmet offering is now much more extensive. Hunter, the British footwear brand has also been welcomed to the Village, adding to the increasing number of British brands on offer. The Collection of Villages is continuously evolving the brand mix and services on offer to ensure all guests are receiving a great experience.
This spring the Collection will have a broad selection of shoes as part of a shoe campaign to bring you the secrets and hidden attractions behind shoes. The Villages, as aficionados of footwear, are destinations for the best selection of shoes. They will also be transformed this summer as we invite our guests to discover the “best of Europe”. Each Village will host events, food offerings and new pop-up boutiques.
We also have agreements with Air China, China Eastern and Malaysian Airlines, and an ongoing relationship with China Union Pay, the lead partner for our Chinese New Year campaign.