Designer Outlet Roosendaal is attracting new brands and is expecting two million visitors next year. Middle class consumers love to shop luxury brands at a substantial discount: this successful formula will not suffer even in the current economic crisis.
Designer Outlet Roosendaal is the ‘little brother’ of Designer Outlet Roermond, another shopping centre owned by McArthurGlen, Europe’s number one in designer outlet shopping. The centre is headed by a Belgian: former basketball pro François Peeters, who learned the retail trade at Value Retail and Puma. A man with ambition too: “Next year, we want to pass the two million visitor mark. We are currently at 1.9 million. You convince brands with footfall.”
However, the shopping centre has come a long way: “When I started here seven years ago, it was a real ‘dump-outlet’, now we have the better brands. In the first two years, we achieved 30% growth each time. Then we expanded and were able to attract new brands.” That success did not escape McArthurGlen either: in early 2017, the outlet specialist took over the shopping centre from then-owner Resolution Property.
Designer Outlet Roosendaal now covers 23,000 m² and has more than 90 boutiques. A new extension of 6000 m² is planned: this should allow for the addition of several major brands. “After the summer, we will submit the zoning plan to the city. The understanding is excellent. We hope to be able to open within three years.”
Vacancy in the shopping centre is currently 7%. Recent newcomers are Scotch & Soda, bag brand Liebeskind Berlin and Bar Bistro BonTon. This autumn Superdry will open a shop here, while Nike is renovating and enlarging its current shop. The recently opened Scotch & Soda also wants to expand already. Peeters would like to add another cosmetics player and expand the catering offer. “A Starbucks could be a crowd-puller here,” he says.
Almost 30% Belgians
What are the strengths of Designer Outlet Roosendaal? Firstly, the convenient location: “We serve a large catchment area of almost 20 million consumers within a 90-minute travelling time, in the Netherlands and in Flanders. This is a densely populated area with good purchasing power. Antwerp is less than 45 minutes away. The proportion of Belgian visitors is growing from 25% in 2019 to almost 30% now.”
What’s more, those shoppers can combine a visit to the Designer Outlet with other leisure activities in the area, such as the Leisurepark Roosendaal, the Playdôme, the Indoor Skydive… “We’re going to step up the cooperation with those theme parks. There will also be a hotel in the neighbourhood. We are currently building a Kids Playground ourselves.”
55% of visitors come at the weekend. They spend 2.5 to 3 hours on average. The satisfaction score is 90%, which is very high. 80% of the shoppers surveyed said they would return.
Sales pick up again
But after two tough years due to corona, the retail industry is now facing a purchasing power crisis. How will shopper behaviour evolve in the coming months? “For now, we are seeing visitor numbers down 3% compared to 2019, but sales are up 3%, and that’s while our strongest tenant, Nike, is now closed for a refurbishment. So the shoppers who come are spending more. Catering is also doing well. Despite the fact that we were closed for a fortnight in January, we are one of the top three growers in McArthurGlen’s portfolio.”
Especially since March, the outlet centre has seen sales pick up again. “We organise successful events, such as late night shopping, with clowns, musical acts and strong promotions, up to 80% on specific items. People in the 30-70 age category want an experience, they like to go out for a day. We have to attract younger customers with trendy brands. Our colleagues in Roermond have Gucci and Prada, but we don’t yet… You can see how brands are reinventing themselves: Hugo Boss is appealing to younger consumers again, Tommy Hilfiger is becoming more sporty…”
No bad news
And the professionalism of the owner, who is after all the world leader in outlet centres, is giving the shopping centre new impetus. “We know all the KPIs of our brands, so we can advise them. That makes us stronger: we grow as they grow. In the inner cities, it’s every man for himself. For example, we are now launching the McArthurGlen Club: a loyalty programme that we are rolling out Europe-wide. It should allow us to address shoppers in a personalised way.”
The current crisis is not necessarily bad news for outlet centres, thinks Peeters: “People are paying more attention to their budgets now. Middle-class consumers want to buy luxury brands, but not at full price. That is our audience: we offer discounts of 30 to 70%.”