Discount retail centre Croydon Village Outlet will take over the former Allders site in September, a year after the Croydon department store closed.
Croydon Village Outlet managing director Marco Cash said the 530,000 sq ft site will be “ideal for launching Britain’s first inner-city off-price retail outlet”.
He added: “In the past, suppliers made sure that discount centres remained out of town, miles away from their main accounts, but attitudes have changed in the last five years. Retailers have started to realise that outlets offer a completely different shopping experience.”
Cash said the centre would be “twice the size” of Bicester Village in Oxfordshire and he hopes to attract more than three million international shoppers next year. Bicester Village attracts 5.8 million visitors each year.
Cash told Drapers the outlet’s fashion department was at 75% capacity, with half of the subscriptions coming from UK high street brands and the remainder from international labels.
Brands including Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Versace and Prada will be available in a 25,000 sq ft ‘Gold Room’ but Cash declined to name which high street brands have signed up. Drapers understands that Kurt Geiger is among the line-up.
Croydon Village Outlet will be headed up by a core management staff of 20, including general manager Chris McMahon, who joins from shopping centre Metro Outlet in Newcastle.
A further 20 positions have been filled by former Allders employees, including the roles of office manager, HR manager and security. The company will recruit a further 630 staff members from the local area.
Cash said he was looking at four other potential sites in regional hubs across the UK for similar developments and believes that eight to 12 would be the optimum number to avoid market saturation.
Croydon Village Outlet has secured a five-year deal with landlord Minerva. The building has remained empty since the closure of the 150-year old Allders department store last September after it fell into administration.
Tim Garnham, joint chief executive of Minerva, confirmed the deal on July 10 and said the property company was “acting in the best interests of Croydon” by securing the letting.