Monday, 8 February 2016

MSc Real Estate: Bicester Village 2016

Last Thursday (4 February 2016) the MSc Real Estate students went on the annual field trip to the international shopping destination that is Bicester Village.

Bicester Village is one of a number of Chic Outlet Shopping® Villages that are operated and owned by Value Retail. There are now nine 'villages' in Europe and two in China and all are located within reach of the most important gateway cities: London, Milan, Munich, Dublin, Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Brussels, Antwerp, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Suzhou and Shanghai (due to open shortly). Each is defined by its luxury brands and open-air ‘village’ settings.

Nick French (MSc Programme Director) took the students to look at the development from a property/planning viewpoint and to see the links between the physical asset and the business. The students attended a presentation and Q&A session (by Chris Harris, Director of Value Retail and Miranda Markham, Community Relations Director for Value Retail) about the Bicester Village development. This year, I went along to take some photos and listen to the talks which were brilliant. Click on the red links for more information.

Listening to the presentations at the John Paul II Centre in Bicester

Chris Harris focused on the origins and future development of Bicester Village, including phase 4 of the development which will include a further expansion of the development, the relocation of the existing Tesco store and traffic management plans. The plans which had been stalled, were recently given the go-ahead. He also talked about the types of customers (or guests) that visited Bicester Village and the status that Bicester Village had achieved as a major tourist destination in the UK (for certain groups of tourists). He explained how the continued development of Bicester Village took into account the needs and aspirations of their guests - the development of the Bicester Village rail station reflects this - offering a direct route from central London as well as luxury surroundings.

Miranda Markham talked about the marketing strategies for Bicester Village and the customer (or guest) statistics behind it. She went on to explain the hospitality strategy and the use of the term 'guests' as opposed to customers. She also explained the importance of social media and how it was being used to promote Bicester Village.

Both Chris and Miranda also touched on the development of the other Value Retail Shopping Villages and the differences/similarities to the original, as well as the relations with the town of Bicester itself. And what about Bicester itself? Well, a few years ago it was designated the location of the UK's first eco town (development already underway) and more recently, it was chosen as a new garden city with a plan to build 13,000 new homes on the edge of the town. Not everybody was pleased about this.

Following the formal sessions, the students walked from the John Paul II Centre through Bicester town centre and entered Bicester Village through the new railway station. They had time to indulge in some serious retail therapy and experience the development from a consumers' point of view, although as budding property experts, they were no doubt thinking about tenant mix, pedestrian flows, demographics and the efficient use of space as they enjoyed their shopping experience. And now, some more photos...

Bicester town centre...

...just a regular market town?

Bicester Village Station car park

Inside the luxurious waiting room at Bicester Village Station...

...and the outside.

Heading into Bicester Village.

The 'green' car parks...

...and one of the shops.

Finally, a street view. Note the red decorations in the tree for Chinese New Year.

You want to go on the field trip next year? Apply for the MSc Real Estate.

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