MILAN — Fidenza Village has come of age, according to Desirée Bollier, chair and chief merchant officer of Value Retail, which operates the Italian luxury destination.
Marking its 18th anniversary this year, Fidenza Village is part of The Bicester Collection by Value Retail. Bollier said she was “proud of the name,” which enhances “value” as a key element, and how the villages have matured in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Fidenza has been distancing itself from a shopping mall by being a destination. You don’t just come to buy a shirt, it’s a very transactional experience, a day out for our customer who spend an average of four to five hours there,” said Bollier. In fact, spending per visit has grown in the double digits.
“The quality of guests we are attracting is incredible,” she added, noting that the venue has changed around 20 percent of its brands, adding the likes of Prada; Etro; Missoni — whose renovated home collection is “fantastic,” she said — and Loro Piana. “We’ve completely changed our customer base.”
Recent openings at Fidenza Village include stores for Stella McCartney and Peserico, opened in April, as well as for Pinalli Cosmetics with a dedicated Veralab corner, a skin care brand by Cristina Fogazzi, known on Instagram as Estetista Cinica. Adidas opened last year, as did Kids Around, a children’s wear luxury multibrand including Givenchy, Chloé, Balmain and Marc Jacobs.
Recent pop-up boutiques at Le Salon, a dedicated space for brands to provide newness to visitors, included Save the Duck, Hugo by Boss and Peserico, and, last year, Emilio Pucci, Valentino and Tory Burch.
In the first quarter ended March 31, year-to-date, the average transaction value at Fidenza Village was up 20 percent compared with 2019. In the luxury segment, sales rose 15 percent versus 2019, and the average transaction value was up 34 percent on 2019.
Bollier also noted that one-third of the 120 brands at Fidenza Village are hosting a special selection of products from the current collection available at full price.
During the pandemic in May 2020, Fidenza Village launched Virtual Shopping, evolving the retail experience as guests can do their shopping via WhatsApp, email or phone with the support of the boutiques’ sales assistants. “It’s not e-commerce, but a full shopping experience with human touch at the core,” observed Bollier. The personal stylist service is also available via virtual shopping.
Virtual shopping sales represented 8 percent of total Village sales and 90 percent of the brands at Fidenza Village are participating to the Virtual Shopping service. The top 10 brands for virtual shopping by sales are all luxury and premium labels, noted Bollier.
The Bicester Collection comprises 11 Villages — nine in Europe and two in China. in 2021, Virtual Shopping sales represented 7 percent of the collection’s total sales — a positive trend that continues into 2022, Bollier said. The 12th Village, Belmont Park Village, is due to open in New York in 2024. In 2022, year-to-date, the collection in Europe and China has seen an increase of 18.5 percent in spend per visit, compared to the same period in 2019.
In March, Fidenza Village launched the first Phygital Street Art festival in Italy, which will run until the end of June. The Fidenza Village Street Art Festival includes murals by 13 international artists including Lidia Cao, who will decorate the Stella McCartney boutique in Fidenza Village in May, and four live performances combining shopping and real-time entertainment until June. In addition to the festival’s artistic director Lucamaleonte and Cao, artists include OrticaNoodles, Sara Pichelli, Seth, Karan Singh, Giulio Vesprini, Pax Paloscia, Sea Creative, Marco Rea, Sten & Lex, Dimitris Taxis and Basik.
“This means having art bigger than life, outdoors in a very democratic environment, very accessible. We are breaking down the walls of a museum,” said Bollier. “I am a firm believer in experiential retail moments to create memories, to think about what you just experienced. Digital changed our approach to our environment.”
Twelve NFTs of the artworks will be linked to The Bicester Collection Do Good Program, a network of nine charities supported by the 11 villages. Fidenza Village will donate the proceeds of the NFT auctions to the charity Make-a-Wish Italia Onlus. In June the festival will evolve from Street Art to Summer Music Festival, until August.
While two villages of the group in China are “extremely successful,” Bollier admitted that the severe restrictions in that country have caused a “dramatic drop in footfall,” but at the same time she expressed confidence in the “incredible recovery and fast bounceback” of that region.
“We have started focusing on the traveling consumer at home, communicating with them and elevating our services,” she said, noting that with a personal shopper, the average spending rises to 1,200 euros compared with the average 350 euros to 450 euros.
At Fidenza Village, there has also been additions to the food segment, also key according to Bollier. These include Verolatte, opened in March, with ice cream maker Massimiliano Scotti having won the most prestigious awards in the world; Taglierè, a Champagne bar with regional cuisine and Ruinart; the restaurant Parma Menù, which, just renewed, offers local products including Parmigiano Reggiano, Culatello, prosciutto di parma, and Signorvino, owned by the giant Calzedonia Group, with a selection of Italian wines.