‘Retail outlets need a tailor-made approach’

Otto Ambagtsheer, COO, VIA Outlets

Outlets are the most successful form of retail because they offer customers a good experience, Otto Ambagtsheer, COO, VIA Outlets, told Real Estate Day.

‘It is the fastest-growing retail channel at the moment,’ he said. The secret is a tailor-made approach that is right for the location and a good mix of brands and F&B.

Via Outlets started in 2014 and has since acquired 11 outlet centres in nine European countries which they are now in the process of remodelling and repositioning.

‘Our strategy is to transform these outlet centres into premium fashion outlets to create a good experience for our guests,’ he said. ‘In order to reposition the centres and attract the right people as well as tourists, we need to have the perfect brand mix’.

Close cooperation with the brands is very important and local knowledge is another crucial factor. 

‘There is no one-size-fits-all in retail,’ Ambagtsheer said. ‘The 11 outlet centres we have are all different so we need a specific, tailor-made strategy for each and every one of them’.

The future looks bright, he said: ‘We had very good results in 2018, with a 9.5% growth in sales and a 3% growth in footfall, so we are feeling very positive, especially as the start of 2019 has been very promising’.

The company’s focus is on the repositioning of the 11 centres that it has acquired, which include Warsaw, Porto and Seville, but if the right opportunity comes along new acquisitions cannot be ruled out. ‘Our eyes are always open,’ Ambagtsheer said.

‘We are concentrating on our projects to make sure the outlets keep growing and create a fantastic guest experience, working closely with the brands,’ he said. ‘The experience is about good hospitality services, good F&B offers and the discount shopping. It is this combination of factors that is appealing to our guests’.

Customers spend an average of 4 hours in an outlet, so ‘it is more like a day out than a quick transaction’. 

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