Marcelo Molinari

Marcelo Molinari

Travel Daily Middle East talks to Marcelo Molinari, group tourism director, Value Retail on the potential of the Middle East market and expansion strategies….

Travel Daily Middle East talks to Marcelo Molinari, group tourism director, Value Retail on the potential of the Middle East market and expansion strategies….

Marcelo Molinari, group tourism director, Value Retail
Marcelo Molinari, group tourism director, Value Retail

Could you share with us the performance of Chic Outlets in 2015?

The Collection of Villages in Europe by Value Retail has delivered double digit growth in gross sales each year since the first Bicester Village, opened in 1995.

In 2015, the Collection in Europe welcomed 33.3 million guests. The Collection of Villages in Europe has achieved 40 consecutive quarters – without exception – of double digit growth in tax refunded sales since 2006. Tax-refunded (non-EU) sales in 2015 across the Collection in Europe increased by 17%.

Based on the growth, the top three contributing markets were China, Middle East and Russia respectively, with tax refunded sales generated by Chinese guests up by 30% year-on-year. In 2015 Kildare Village welcomed more than three million guests, an increase of 11.7% compared to previous year. Tax refunded (non-EU) sales in 2015 were up by 71%, with China, Malaysia and Australia as the top three contributing nationalities respectively, with sales generated by guests from China more than doubling compared to the previous year. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait also feature in the top ten contributing nationalities.

What new initiatives and expansion plans are lined up for 2016?

This summer, Chic Outlet Shopping will celebrate the ‘Best of Europe’. Many of the Villages will host exclusive events, brand and blogger collaborations and there are some exciting pop-up boutiques launching across the Villages.

In particular, Kildare Village, which underwent a major expansion in 2015, will launch From the Isle, a campaign that celebrates modern Irish makers and designers who embracing artisanal practice and reinterpreting traditional craft for a specialised luxury market. Fidenza Village will launch its Creative Spot campaign, a collaboration with Vogue Italia and Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana to showcase fashions by emerging local and international talent.

In late 2015, Bicester Village Station, a brand new railway station, was unveiled, bringing passengers directly from London Marylebone in less than an hour. The station incorporates a new VIP services desk and Information Hub, and a waiting room, all adjacent to the Village itself. 2016 will, of course, also see the opening of Shanghai Village, the eleventh Village in the Collection.

Which are your top performing markets in the Middle East?

The Middle East indeed has been, and continues to be, a key market for the Collection of Villages in Europe. According to tax-refunded sales, Middle East is always a strong performing market within all of the Villages. The UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar remain the most popular markets. We continue to promote and develop our travel and tourism partnerships in the region and in particular with top travel agents in the key markets. We are strongly promoting our partnership with Qatar Airways whereby Qatar privilege members can earn more miles with their purchases in the nine Villages in Europe.

What are the key initiatives to address halal tourism?

This summer we are creating an extra-special experience for our Middle Eastern audience. The Villages in Europe offer our guests everything they need for Eid: VIP services (such as an Arabic-speaking concierge, personal stylists, Hands-free Shopping, Valet Parking and more) and brands such as Balenciaga, Mulberry, Saint Laurent Paris and Temperley London.

Alongside luxury brands and savings of up to 60% on the RRP, and the instant tax refund service, we will offer an Eid Luxe Envelope  exclusively for our Middle Eastern guests which will contain:

  • A VIP Card with an additional saving
  • A guide to the Village(s) showcasing guests need for Eid including halal food, Arabic-speaking staff, prayer rooms
  • Access to exclusive services and hospitality offers; examples include an Arabic-speaking personal shopper, access to the VIP Lounge, Hands-free Shopping, valet parking and dining offers

How has the China market emerged?

China indeed has been, and continues to be, a key market for the Collection of Villages in Europe. According to tax-refunded sales, China was the top contributing market to the Collection in 2015, generating 50% of tax-refunded sales, an increase of 30% compared to the previous year.

Value Retail opened the first Village in China in 2014 – Suzhou Village, near Suzhou. Suzhou Village is an original fusion of Italian and artisanal Chinese influences. In the spring of 2016 Value Retail will unveil the Shanghai Village.

Gary Marshall
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Gary Marshall
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