VIA Outlets reopens complete portfolio across Europe
VIA Outlets has now reopened its entire 11-centre portfolio after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in various markets, with encouraging trading, new hybrid services introduced and a host of new brands joining the portfolio.
The last one of the firm’s European centres that was still closed — Zweibrücken Fashion Outlet in Germany — finally reopened on Friday, which marks a big step forward for the business. Apart from its Hede Fashion Outlet in Gothenburg, all of its malls have been partially or completely closed for most of the period between December and May.
And CEO Otto Ambagtsheer said it has already seen “spend per visitor outperform 2019 numbers in all centres, double-digit growth, some by as much as 40% – a true testament of so-called ‘revenge shopping’. With vaccine programmes now picking up speed across Europe, we are hopefully near the end of this crisis and are feeling highly confident about the future – and we are even seeing positive signs of tourism rebounding in locations such as Mallorca Fashion Outlet”.
The company has worked hard during the closed period to add ‘hybrid services’ to support virtual shopping and assist brands to continue trading to the greatest extent possible.
It set up private shopping appointments via WhatsApp, Skype or Teams, to allow shoppers to speak directly with a sales assistant to see products in-store or via a digital catalogue. Purchases were either available to be picked up in-store or delivered directly to the customer.
And it sees this initiative as “a great success and highly appreciated by both guests and brand partners”. As a result, it will “remain a permanent service offered by many brand partners in the portfolio”.
It also trialled and launched a dedicated ‘Plan and Shop platform in its Batavia Stad Fashion Outlet in Amsterdam, so visitors could plan their trips in advance. This was in response to Dutch Covid regulations. The system saw over 250,000 reservations in less than two months – allowing the centre to reach 25% of normal turnover.
The company has also added a number of new brands, having seen an increase in demand from existing as well as prospective brand partners looking for new channels to sell surplus stock after lockdowns.
New brands to the VIA portfolio include premium ski label Toni Sailer and German icon Windsor opening new stores in Landquart Fashion Outlet in Switzerland; Lyle & Scott opening its first European outlet store in Batavia Stad; Karl Lagerfeld opening in Mallorca; Hugo Boss opening in Zweibrücken; and Roberto Cavalli opening two stores in Batavia Stad and Zweibrücken respectively.
Fila is another newcomer, choosing Freeport Lisboa for its first monobrand outlet in Europe. And in the same location, Vans has opened its largest outlet store in Iberia (412 sq m).
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