‘We want to touch people’s emotions’


In an exclusive interview with RetailWatch, Carlos González, managing director of Neinver, reveals how the outlet centre leader has built winning relationships with brands, and how it plans to face the challenges of the future.


What is Neinver doing to maximise the value of its assets for brands and consumers?

One of the company’s goals is to create destinations that sell not only products but also unique emotions and experiences. Renovation plans are well underway at several of our centres – for instance at Vicolungo The Style Outlets (Milan, Italy) and Roppenheim The Style Outlets (France) – so we can keep offering the best environment and services to complement the excellent offer of products.

We are working to offer the brands sophisticated environments with attention to every detail, to support their values and let them present their brand in a unique way.

Tech also plays a major role in the company’s value proposition. In the last three years, we’ve been immersed in the digital transformation of our business, to provide our centres with new technologies that improve the centres’ management and with behind-the-scenes digital solutions, aimed at reinforcing engagement with shoppers through different digital touchpoints.

How do you create new opportunities for brands in your centres?

Thanks to our international network of centres in Europe, we can support brands’ expansion strategies in countries where they already operate as well as their expansion into new markets. For instance, more than half our brand partners have outlets in two or more of our centres.

The opening of Viladecans The Style Outlets, just outside Barcelona, brought several brands into the Spanish market for the first time, and G by Guess opened its first shop of any kind (outlet or full price) in Europe.

Additionally, through our digital platform, we can obtain data about our shoppers that can reveal patterns and trends once it is aggregated and analysed. This is an important source of added value for brands, giving them better knowledge of visitors as well as key indicators so they can define their own store strategies and ways to approach consumers.

How do you plan your expansion and development drives across Europe?

We seek opportunities to establish a leadership position. We therefore consider factors such as the catchment area, purchasing power, tourism, the brands’ available stock, and the competition.

One of our next properties to open is Amsterdam The Style Outlets, developed with TH Real Estate in the Netherlands. The centre, scheduled to open in autumn of 2020, is the first outlet centre in the wealthy Randstad region, which is home to 40% of the Dutch population.

Additionally, 2020 will also bring the opening of our premium centre Alpes The Style Outlets, in France near the Swiss border, which will have a strong tourist component since it is next to well-travelled routes to winter destinations.

How far will leisure and F&B continue to grow in your outlets?

We recently established an F&B Task Force of representatives from different areas of the company, whose job is to design the best possible food-service mix for our centres. We estimate that within ten years, this segment could account for up to 20% of the total GLA of outlet centres. In properties we recently opened or renovated, F&B occupies about 10% of the space.

That is true at The Style Outlets in Barcelona, which opened in 2016, and the Vicolungo centre in Italy, whose refurbishment will add about 500 m2 more of leasable F&B space.

On the other hand, it’s not just about quantity but also quality, since visitors to outlet centres, where the average transaction is higher than at traditional shopping centres, are also looking for options that go beyond fast food. At Factory Krakow, in Poland, we opened a new 500 m2 dining area this year with differentiated areas based on visitors’ preferences.

What will the outlet of the future look like?

In a demanding world with selective consumers, the classic value-for-money and no-frills proposition is no longer enough. In this sense, outlet centres are at the forefront of retail, as they already provide a high-quality offer, a day out proposition and fantastic prices for must-have brands.

But in the constant race for consumers and for their time and passion, it won’t be just about products anymore. Centres will definitely be designed for the visitors, around their experiences and emotions.

The emphasis will be on quality, leisure-driven, experiential components, services tailored to all kinds of publics, and also on incorporating new technologies to make the visit more interactive and customised. The outlets of the future will combine the best aspects of the brick-and-mortar and digital channels.