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McQueen and Williamson to open first outlet stores

Designers Alexander McQueen and Matthew Williamson will unveil their first outlet stores this month at discount shopping centre Bicester Village in Oxfordshire.

The openings are part of a third-phase expansion scheme which has seen the outlet centre grow by 26% to 220,000sq ft.

Other openings in the new 45,000sq ft phase include Dolce & Gabbana, Thomas Pink, Radley and Guess. Furla, Jack Wills and Paul & Joe stores are scheduled to open this week.

Bicester Village is operated by Value Retail, which owns nine discount outlet centres across Europe.

Scott Malkin, chairman of Value Retail, said: “Both Alexander McQueen and Matthew Williamson bring a flagship quality to Bicester Village. It will strengthen our focus.”

Malkin said the introduction of high-end brands was part of a strategy to turn Bicester Village into a department store-style experience. “We’ll be focusing on department store services, with new initiatives including valet parking and personal shoppers. We want to give customers enough choice so they come and spend the day with us,” he explained.
Total sales across all of Value Retail’s centres are up 20% for the year so far, with like-for-like sales up 10%.

However, Malkin said that the business was not immune to the economic downturn and that trading had been tougher recently. “Visitor numbers are up on average 10% across the group, which is healthy, but we’re working hard,” he said.

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