My first takeaways from Honfleur Normandy Outlet
Last November 9th, the highly anticipated Honfleur Normandy Outlet opened its doors to officials and brands before the actual grand opening for the public the next day. The off-price open-air village is owned by Resolution Property (a UK-based property company part of Fosun group) and managed on a daily basis by French Outlet Specialist Advantail.
Honfleur Normandy Outlet has gone through many obstacles over the last 10 years. The real kick-off happened when Resolution Property bought the project and decided to invest 50 million euros in 2015 to make it happen.
In its first phase, Honfleur Normandy Outlet encompasses 12,000 sq m of space and includes 26 shops. 65% of the retail units have been let, a decent rate in the outlet business where a majority of brands prefers selecting up and running sites to open a new off-price store.
Anyway, a phase 2 is already scheduled in 218 to reach critical mass and boost tourist sales.
Key takeaways from my visit
- The location
Honfleur Normandy Outlet is ideally located by the Normandy Bridge and a few minutes away from the charming tourist city of Honfleur. The catchment area covers a population of approximately 2,5 million people within a 90 minute drive. On top of that, 3 million tourists flock to the Normandy region every year. An ideal combination of shoppers profile for an outlet village.
- The visitor experience
When driving to the village, 2 stunning “houses” designed by French architect Edouard François can be identified from afar.
On site, the village provides its visitors with a vast and green parking space.
An additional overground parking offers direct access to the main street in the village.
The majority of the boutiques is installed on the main street that connects the 2 houses on both sides of the village. Stores are covered with green roofs to demonstrate the village ambition in terms of eco design and sustainability.
The contrast between the eco-friendly environment outside the village (4,000 trees) and the mineral atmosphere at its heart is pretty striking. The two Normandy houses reinvented by the architect are entirely monochromatic grey and so are the pavement and the steel wall cladding around the boutiques. Undoubtedly a neat and sleek design but, on the flip side, the general feeling might be a bit stark when the sky is grey (which regularly happens in Normandy).
- The brand offer
Even though the village only features 26 stores as a first step, Advantail has succeeded to sign major anchor brands to start the adventure: Nike, Galerie Lafayette Outlet, Levis and Lindt are, for example, a first solid lineup to build upon.
The village offers also a convincing array of streetwear and sportswear specialists, such as Volcom, Guess, le Temps des Cerises, Pépé Jeans, Garcia Jeans and O’Neil. Catchy and trendy signatures that Normandy inhabitants will be pleased to shop at.
To say the least, the leasing process has been hectic since the project has suffered from a long period of standstill. Additionally “Marques Avenue”, an outlet centre that has been opened one hour drive away from Honfleur a few years ago, has narrowed down the list of potential tenants.
Here in Honfleur, The Galeries Lafayette Outlet is undoubtedly the main anchor. The store consists of 1,200 sq m of good bargains on apparel and accessories brands to attract fashion-forward yet price-conscious consumers.
- The customer experience
The stores have made significant efforts to design eye-catching environments. Off-price market is no longer lagging behind full price sector in terms of customer experience. At a time when omni-channel shoppers are reshaping the retail industry, brands are involved in delivering a coherent and seamless image wherever they connect to their audience.
Note that The Body Shop has also picked-up Honfleur Normandy Village. A store that will surely thrive during Christmas sales.
Up until now, Honfleur Normandy Outlet’s main shortcoming is the lack of F&B. Only 2 fast-casuals options are available. Yet, a few food trucks have been introduced to make up for the shortage of food offers. Advantail is actively looking for a local food entrepreneur to set up a brasserie to cater to the needs of visitors and accommodate tourist groups.
Resolution Property and Advantail are anticipating solid sales untel next January. Thus, in case Honfleur Normandy Outlet achieves initial great results, the number of brands to join the line-up is likely to grow consistently.
Normandy Outlet is expecting 2 million visitors and an average 4,500 euros per square meter in the next 3 years.