LONDON — McArthurGlen’s Serravalle outlet is the largest in Europe, and this week it just got bigger.
Following extensive renovation works, it has added 135,000 square feet of new retail space and opened 40 new stores.
In addition to the store openings, the renovation has also focused on improving customer service and incorporating art into the facilities to enhance the consumer experience.
The opening of the renovated space on Thursday saw an influx of up to 31,500 consumers visiting the outlet, a 450 percent increase compared to last year in terms of footfall.
The new stores range from high-street labels such as Pepe Jeans, Gap and L’Autre Chose, to sportswear brands such as Freddy and Columbia, to jewelry labels including Morellato, following Pandora’s successful launch in the outlet.
Other additions include the first outlets in Italy for the contemporary labels Sandro, Empresa and ATPCO, and the Italian vintage retailer Angelo. The latter has unveiled a pop-up store with a curated selection of vintage products by the likes of Chanel, Fendi, Christian Dior, Balenciaga and Givenchy.
McArthurGlen has also worked on improving the customer experience, launching new information services for guests, lounges and Wi-Fi services across the outlet center. A tourism desk will promote the surrounding regions of Liguria, Piedmont and Lombardy and a string of new bars and restaurants.
The new space is part of a 115 million euros, or $127 million, investment from a joint venture between the European Outlet Mall Fund, which owns the Serravalle, and the real estate company Aedes SIIQ. The European Outlet Mall Fund acquired Serravalle in 2004, while the McArthurGlen Group, which opened the center in 2000, continues to work as its development, leasing and management agent.
Incorporating art into its retail spaces has been another focus for the McArthurGlen Group. The renovated Serravalle outlet will feature an installation by Mario Airo called “Twist,” which captures the changing landscapes of Milan through sculpture. The work was unveiled during this year’s Salone Del Mobile in Milan, and is on display at the city’s Triennale Design Museum.
“This demonstrates our commitment to the continued union between art and retail within all of our centers, our mission to ensure that our customers — who travel an average of 90 minutes to their nearest center and spend an average of four hours with us — receive the finest designer outlet experience in the world,” said Sharen McKenzie, group marketing director of McArthurGlen.
The expansion will give rise to 550 new jobs, and more are expected to be created indirectly due to the uplift in local tourism the renovated center is expected to bring. Alberto Carbone, mayor of Serravalle Scrivia, said the outlet has been a key contributor to the local economy, both in terms of employment and tourism.
Tourism has long driven McArthurGlen’s business. The group works with up to 100 partners from airlines to hotel and tour operators for all of its outlets in Europe. It has seen a particular increase in its tax-free sales, which have increased 370 percent over the last five years.
Sales to Chinese shoppers in particular rose by 92 percent last year, with South Korean, Malaysian and Indonesian shoppers also among the big spenders.
The group has a number of outlets across Italy, including Venice, Florence, Naples and Rome. It also plans to invest in expanding the Noventa di Piave outlet located near Venice, with an additional 65,000 square meters of retail space.