By Mario Toneguzzi
The McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Mall at the Vancouver Airport has been a smashing success since it first opened in 2015 and the shopping destination just keeps getting better.
It continues to open new stores this fall in the newly expanded centre solidifying it as Vancouver’s hub for designer and premier fashion.
“One of our main goals is to make sure we’re providing something new for our dedicated shoppers and new guests throughout the year, both from the greater Vancouver area and the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit us each year,” said Robert Thurlow, General Manager of McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver. “We are extremely proud to welcome these brands as the centre continues to provide a full program of unique events and promotions ensuring our guests enjoy an exceptional day out.”
Recently, the centre welcomed big-name brands including Jimmy Choo, Stuart Weitzman, All Saints, Movado and the North Face.
The new wave of openings, from the fall to the end of this year, also include popular lifestyle brands like adidas, Jack & Jones and Starbucks, complementing its impressive existing offer, including Hugo Boss, Armani, Kate Spade, Coach, Michael Kors, Ted Baker, Nike, and more.
“Despite the centre only being four years old, we always want to improve the customer experience and we wanted to make sure that we’re always raising our game, always trying to add whatever we can to the centre to make it more enjoyable to our consumers,” said Thurlow. “We actually did a lot of centre upgrades this year in the existing phase one part of the centre. We’re not a very old centre but we’re still deploying large amounts of capital expenditure into the existing centre.”
Phase two of the development mirrors the European design of the first phase, expanding on its open-air village style, with luxury piazzas, cobblestone walkways and a variety of facades. The expansion also follows a whole host of recent upgrades, including a covered walkway to the main entrance, heated patio umbrellas and outdoor lounge areas, heated covered seating areas, making the centre the ultimate shopping destination, come rain or shine, and allowing visitors to enjoy open-air shopping and dining all year round. The guest services area has also been tripled in size.
McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport is a joint venture between McArthurGlen, Europe’s leading owner, developer and manager of designer outlets, and the Vancouver Airport Authority, a community-based, not-for-profit organization that operates the Vancouver International Airport.
McArthurGlen Vancouver is one of the 24 designer outlets managed by McArthurGlen Group.
The Vancouver centre opened in July 2015 with 241,000 square feet in its first phase. The second phase, and latest phase, has added an additional 84,000 square feet.
(Above photos: David Ian Gray)
“We also have room for phase three that will eventually come online probably within the next two to three years is kind of our normal development cycle when we add new phases. That’s an additional 65,000 square feet which will bring us to almost 400,000 square feet when completed,” said Thurlow.
“It will probably be around 2022. That typically would be our time frame. Normally what we want to do when we build a new phase we let that phase kind of bed in for a year or two. We monitor performance, make sure we are where we want to be, start leasing up already behind the scenes prior to the phase even breaking ground and then we would pull the trigger on the next phase.”
The first phase of the centre had 77 stores and by the end of this year there will be about 100 stores.
Last year, it surpassed four million shoppers and is one of the top performing shopping centres in Canada.
“This year we’re looking at a significant increase. We’ll probably be around the 4.5 million range this year which is a significant increase over last year. Since we opened the phase two of the property on August 29 this year, our footfall has grown 19 per cent over last year. We anticipated a 10 per cent increase and we’re sitting at 19. I’m really pleased because the footfall from just prior to Labour Day weekend through until now has been holding at about 19 per cent over prior year,” said Thurlow.
“So the opening of phase two certainly had a lot of positive traction in both the local and the tourist environment.”
Thurlow said one of the appeals of the shopping centre for the consumers is the brand mix. It has a wide appeal to many consumers.
“You have brands at the top luxury end, but we also have a lot of very accessible brands. So we do have a very wide appeal and I think that’s part of the success. Consumers can come here and if you want to buy something for yourself, something very fancy for a night out and you want to spend $700 on a pair of shoes you can go ahead but you can also go into Oshkosh or Carter’s for your child and buy something for $15,” said Thurlow.
“The physical architecture of the centre is also really appealing. We have a beautiful outdoor centre. It does feel like you’re walking down cobblestone streets in Europe. We’ve paid a lot of attention to detail and architecture is really part of the brand standard of McArthurGlen. The centres are beautiful. And when somebody comes here and says to me ‘oh I love this place, it feels like I’m in Disneyland’ I think I’ve done my job because it should be an escape for you to come here. It should be something that is out of the ordinary day to day.”
Vancouver is the only property outside of Europe for McArthurGlen.
“We’re a European-based developer. We’re based in London. This was a great opportunity for McArthurGlen to come into the North American market and we’ve been incredibly successful. We’re actually the number one performing outlet centre in Canada with sales of over $1,200 sales per square foot, which tops any other outlet in the country.”
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.