Designer outlet group Value Retail reported a 16% increase in like-for-like sales for the year to December 2011, fuelled by a surge in the number of Chinese visitors to its outlet centres.
The company, which owns and operates nine Chic Outlet Shopping centres across Europe, including Bicester Village in Oxfordshire, said a 77% increase in Chinese visitors in 2011 had helped push total revenues to €1.5bn (£1.25bn).
The nine ‘villages’ together experienced a 12% growth in visitor numbers and a 7% increase in spend per visit.
Kildare Village, based just outside Dublin, recorded a 24% increase in overall sales and a 13% rise in like-for-like sales. Footfall at Kildare Village increased 20% during the year while the average spend per visit rose 3%.
“Our villages are designed to be destinations,” said Desirée Bollier, chief executive of Value Retail. “That applies to both tourists and those coming from nearby.”
She added: “Our villages aren’t the sort of places that you just drop into for 10 minutes because you need a pair of shoes to go with tonight’s outfit. They are the sort of places that you plan a visit to and spend a few hours or an entire day at.”
Such is the importance of the Chinese market that last September the company announced it would open an outlet in Suzhou, China, in 2013.