Mar 26, 2023
In the latest episode of the LuxurynsightXFashionNetwork podcast series, Sylvie Freund-Pickavance describes to Godfrey Deeny, global editor-in-chief of FashionNetwork.com, her approach in spearheading the expansion strategy of Value Retail Group, a luxury outlet village developer that operates a string of shopping-centre destinations focused on customer experience and hospitality in Europe and Asia.
The Value Retail Group’s Bicester Collection consists of 11 luxury shopping-centre destinations that are growing in parallel with the luxury labels they showcase. Bicester Collection villages are located close to some of Europe and Asia’s capitals and major cities, like La Vallée Village in Paris, Bicester Village in Oxfordshire, the villages in Shanghai and Suzhou, and Fidenza Village between Milan and Bologna.
An experience beyond shopping
The reason behind the phenomenal success of this luxury outlet village group – featuring stores by labels such as Dolce & Gabbana, Diesel, Coach, Max Mara, Karl Lagerfeld and Jimmy Choo – lies at the intersection of real estate, retail, hospitality and tourism, since all these shopping villages have been purposely located less than an hour away from the nearest metropolis. This strategy makes them the most profitable shopping centres on the planet in terms of revenue per square metre.
“We manage these destinations very much with a retailer mentality, (…) like a department store,” said Freund-Pickavance. “We create destinations that go beyond shopping. Hospitality and experience are really at the core of what we do,” she added.
Freund-Pickavance has been in charge of the international and commercial strategy of the Bicester Collection, part of the Value Retail Group, for 13 years.
These luxury outlet villages rely on “the promise of a fantastic day out,” which translates into sophisticated thinking on “the architecture of our villages, the landscaping, the services offered and the curation of the labels present,” she said.
Every year, Bicester Collection villages change nearly a third of the labels they host in order to “stay current” and “constantly feature new brands and new products, to promote healthy competition,” said Freund-Pickavance, a graduate of the ESCP business school and Cambridge University.
Since the Covid crisis, fashion labels and luxury outlet villages have been rivalling in ingenuity as they attempt to lure consumers back to their stores and win their loyalty. The Value Retail group’s international villages collect and analyse “data to understand global fashion trends, understand our customers’ profiles, monitor the results of brands and help them perform better,” said Freund-Pickavance.
In the podcast, she also explains how the villages are constantly upgrading their customers’ unique experience and the services they offer, in order to help revive luxury consumption after the pandemic.
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