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Interview with Value Retail ‘s CEO – Desiree Bollier


Value Retail is the only company to specialise exclusively in the creation and operation of luxury outlet shopping destinations, the Collection of Chic Outlet Shopping® Villages in Europe and China.

It is pioneering a new retail experience, redefining outlet shopping both for the world’s leading brands and for the discerning global shopper.

CEO Desiree Bollier speaks to us in an exclusive interview.


1. Value Retail seems like a very promising avenue to the now-expanding world of luxury fashion. How important do you think is power dressing today, both for the socialite and the career goddess?
Power dressing is important for a woman’s image, and has been for centuries with the original career goddess and socialite being Nephrodite. But what’s most important is knowing your own style and feeling comfortable with what you are wearing. It’s the attitude that makes you feel powerfully dressed.

2. Value Retail aims to redefine the shopping experience today in Europe and China by introducing luxury shopping “villages”. Could you tell us more about the concept of these shopping villages?
Value Retail was founded more than 20 years ago and we’ve pioneered the shopping tourism category. People from all over the world visit the ten Villages across Europe and China. The Collection of Villages is all about quality and experience. From the moment guests arrive, we offer a luxury shopping experience within an outdoor “village” style setting. Each of the ten Villages are unique, emulating the country or region’s cultural heritage. So whether you are travelling to London or Madrid, you will experience local nuances of the country or region, and you’ll find globally renowned luxury and lifestyle brands as well as local brands. You can also dine on regional cuisine, and immerse yourself in the art displayed around the Villages.

Many of our guests are experienced travellers and luxury shoppers who select their holiday destination based on their shopping preferences. The Villages are located just outside major European cities for a great day out. Our guests return for the experience we offer, in addition to the brands they discover. We offer the same welcome, superior service and experience across all ten Villages.
3. The brand Value Retail has opened shopping villages in only certain select locations. How were these locations chosen? Does the brand plan to open more such outlets in the coming years?
Each of the Villages in Europe is located roughly within one hour of major European destinations, with easy accessibility and infrastructure to attract and host tourists. The brand mix at each Village is carefully considered to include a range of international and regional luxury and fashion brands, which appeal to both the global and domestic shopper. Each Village is a stage for retail theatre with a continually evolving refreshed series of events and pop-up boutiques that create renewed magic and charm for guests each time they visit. Our customer is a global shopper, connected 24 hours a day, is a high spender and sophisticated. They feel ‘at home’ within the unique environments we deliver – whether they are from Madrid, Dubai or Paris.


We continue to expand, with China being a new and exciting territory. Suzhou Village celebrated its first anniversary this May and we are opening Shanghai Village in spring 2016.

4. What will luxury shopping villages offer the buyer that will make him/her choose this over the other many options available today? What is your unique selling proposition?
Consumers are increasingly becoming agnostic about their shopping channels, so the key is to offer them a unique and memorable experience when they arrive and shop at the Village. This means combining fashion, food and art with amazing service. The Villages host top international brands from Saint Laurent Paris and Alexander McQueen to Missoni and Tory Burch. Each Village has a variety of restaurants and cuisine and often hosts chef takeovers and specially designed menus. To further stimulate the senses, we curate art from both established and emerging artists. We’ve created an environment where the entire family can shop together and enjoy a great day out.

5. How do you think the retail marketplace has evolved in emerging economies like China?
China has experienced rapid growth over the past ten years with the major international brands investing and expanding in this buoyant market. What’s striking is how quickly the Chinese consumer has become a discerning shopper. By contrast, it took nearly 20 years for the Japanese consumer to fully embrace European fashion and culture, whereas with the Chinese consumer, this cycle has been compressed – China has gone from two-star to six-star standards in just over a decade.

6. On a similar note, how much do services need to be tweaked for these luxury shopping outlets based on the location, i.e. how different are services for a classic shopping destination like Europe and nouveau marketplaces like China ?
The Chinese outbound travel market is growing exponentially and the Chinese consumer is internationally minded. They are increasingly well-travelled and often plan their holidays around shopping. Any company that aspires to compete in the global marketplace must have an appetite to deliver an exceptional experience and service to attract the Chinese consumer.

7. Value Retail operates in nine villages globally. In your role as CEO, you travel and oversee the management of all these villages. How would you say the Middle Eastern buyer is different from other buyers in their approach to luxury shopping?
The Middle Eastern shopper is more daring. Budget is not an issue. The Middle Eastern woman is fashion forward, she knows exactly what she is looking for and what she wants. She is highly educated on fashion trends and fluent in luxury brands. These attributes make it exciting for us as we continue to invest in our services and evolve to meet the needs of our Middle Eastern guests.

8. As you know, conventional dressing in the Middle East varies from Western dressing norms. What are the options for Middle Eastern women looking to shop at these luxury villages? Do you have dedicated teams that serve each geographical segment of buyers?
The Middle Eastern woman can choose from 1,000 boutiques across the Collection of Villages. She will find a variety of luxury brands to suit every occasion including Diane von Furstenberg, Escada and Anya Hindmarch just to name a few. I believe this level of choice will always complement the style and dress of a Middle Eastern woman. We work closely with the brands to ensure that we have the right merchandise to coincide with the Middle Eastern travel calendar. For example, we work with the brands months in advance to ensure the selection is ample in order to celebrate Eid in style.

9. How do you think the luxury buyer today has accepted the concept of luxury shopping villages? What are the future plans for this financial year?


The Collection of Villages, since its beginning with Bicester Village just outside London in 1995, has delivered double-digit gross sales growth each year. We continue to expand our offering:
• Kildare Village, just outside Dublin, will offer 36 new boutiques this fall.
• La Roca Village, outside Barcelona unveiled a €30 million expansion last year.
• Fidenza Village near Milan is scheduled to open an expansion of 26 boutiques in 2017.
• Bicester Village near London is scheduled to open a new extension in 2017.
• Shanghai Village will open in spring of 2016.

10. Post Eid, a lot of Middle Eastern buyers often vacation in Europe. What can international buyers look forward to experience when shopping at Value Retail?
Middle Eastern guests will be welcomed with hospitality and service, for the entire family. Each Village will host a series of events to celebrate the summer season. Each of the Villages will focus on creating luxury experiences for our guests, including special offers with brands, Valet Parking services and Hands-free Shopping so that you can leave your shopping bags and they’ll be delivered to upon your exit. For those visiting Milan during Expo, Fidenza Village is located just an hour away. Throughout the summer, Fidenza Village will host exclusive events across fashion, art, design, cuisine and music giving guests a true Italian experience. Meanwhile in Bicester Village near London, guests can experience ‘the Best of British’ and discover the work of the UK’s most exciting emerging designers at the British Designers’ Collective pop up boutique, as well as food, art and music from the UK’s leading chefs, artists and musicians who are performing live at the Village.

11. Could you tell us more about your Corporate Social Responsibility initiative? How is Value retail giving back to society?
We have three areas of focus:

Environmental, Social and Economic Sustainability
1. Environmental: building on responsible environmental policies; commercially viable plan detailing actions for brands focusing on green shopfit procedure.
2. Social Sustainability:
• Focus on staff: in 2015 specific new initiatives to support talent sourcing and training include:
o Exclusive partnership with Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) and UNWTO to develop ‘Talent by Value Retail’ framework of key attributes of boutique managers, as well as a bespoke guest-centric training programme for all store managers.
o Tailored unique career events, leveraging on unique local partnerships with academic institutions, such as ESADE, London Business School and others.
• Local communities: heavy focus on emerging industry talent and charitable endeavours (every Village has charitable programmes);
• Focusing on the promotion of emerging talent within the region (British Designers’ Collective, Barcelona Designers’ Collective)
3. Economic sustainability: Value Retail has delivered double-digit growth in gross sales since 1995 and this is expected to continue in 2015. We forge a symbiotic relationship and partnership in the cities and towns where the Villages reside and are also providing local employment opportunities.

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