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Monday September 9, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday September 9, 2013 MYT 8:30:38 AM
by s. indramalar
Located near major tourist spots in Europe, the Chic Outlet Villages offer travellers great deals on luxury products.
Travellers now include shopping as part of their holiday, hence the existence of shopping villages.
YOU know shopping is serious business when there are villages – not just stores, but villages – set up in major tourist destinations all around the world for travellers to shop.
This is the modern manifestation of shopping tourism which used to mean picking up a souvenir or two for friends and family back home, and perhaps visiting high street shops for (hopefully) bargain items that aren’t available back home.
These days, travellers include shopping as a major part of their holiday experience and the existence of shopping villages are a testament to this trend.
The Chic Outlet Villages exemplify this. Owned and operated by Value Retail, the Chic Outlet Villages are literally set up to resemble, well, villages. Apart from hundreds of designer shops, there are restaurants (not food courts, mind you), cafes and play areas for children.
There are nine such villages across Europe, each one designed to replicate the feel and architecture of the country in which it is located. La Vallee Village located just outside Paris, for example, features cobbled streets with flower boxes that have a distinct French charm. A 10th village will open in China – the first in Asia – in 2014.
“Each village has its own DNA, so to speak. They’re all different,” explains Ian Stazicker, head of tourism for Chic Outlet Shopping.
“So, customers who go regularly to Europe will have a different experience in each Village they visit. The shops also are different, as is the architecture of each village. Also, it’s a safe and comfortable environment to shop in.
“You never feel like you’re in a crush because even if there are a lot of visitors, the avenues are wide and there is a good movement of people,” adds Stazicker, who was in Kuala Lumpur recently to meet the media.
The villages have a variety of top designer labels but each one highlights collections designed by the respective country’s national designers. For example, the Bicester Village in Britain highlights many of the nations’ top labels like Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Smythson, Mulberry and Temperly London while the La Roca Village near Barcelona may highlight brands such as Pedro del Hierro.
“We have around 900 stores in all our villages and within that 900, there are 550 different brands. Some of them are located in all nine villages, but the vast majority alternate between the different villages. I think that’s really down to their distribution needs. Also, we want people to visit several of our villages so we have to offer something different in each,” explains Stazicker.
“Shopping is something all travellers do. For some markets, particularly Asia, shopping is one of the main things people do when they travel and we want them to find something in all the villages they visit,” he says.
The Chic Outlet Villages are also located near major tourist destinations, enabling travellers to incorporate shopping into their itineraries with ease. For example, La Vallee is located just 30 minutes from Disneyland Paris while the La Rozas Village is located a mere 40 minutes from Madrid.
“There are many reasons why people come to our villages. The brands which we offer are a combination of international luxury brands as well as local luxury brands that they may not find at home. Clearly, we also attract customers because of the price point.
“There are discounts all year round from 30% to 60%, and the merchandise is 100% genuine and not imitation, nor made for outlets. They can be confident that they are getting an exceptional deal,” adds Stazicker.
By striking deals with airlines, travel agents and credit operators, the Chic Outlet Villages have become tourist destinations that are built into travel itineraries.
Despite the aggressive marketing strategies employed, Stazicker emphasises that
the reason customers keep coming back
to the villages is because they are satisfied with the offerings.
“We have to give our customers what they want. You would be amazed at the military-style planning that some of the shoppers do when they visit us.
“They have come a long way, and so obviously they would like to spend some time in the villages and we have to have the right brands for them or they will never return.
“We give them enough variety so that they feel that the experience is worth their while,” concludes Stazicker, whose role is to develop international business for all nine villages.
For more information, visit www.chicoutletshopping.com.
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Lifestyle, Fashion, Chic Outlet Villages, Shopping
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