Alain Salzman : "We have to give consumers the right reasons to visit a physical store."
In exactly six months, on 22 April 2015, Alain Salzman, CEO of Concepts and Distribution, the French leader in outlet malls, will open its new site Marques Avenue in the Paris region. An outlet mall aspiring to be of a new generation. He explains why to FashionMag.com.
FashionMag.com: Why open a new centre in the Paris region if you already have Marques Avenue in Corbeil and Ile Saint Denis, and a Quai des Marques in Franconville?
Alain Salzman: Ever since the creation of the first Marques Avenue in Troyes in 1993, we have wanted to install a centre in the western Paris region. The reason is actually very simple: such a set-up would benefit from a potential 10 million consumers with, moreover, spending power in the primary zone 50% above the national average.
FM: Why then did you wait for so long?
AS: The right site had to be found. And then maybe we also thought we had the time. The announcements of McArthurGlen in Vernon, Carré Privé in Montigny le Bretonneux, and the One Nation (now open, ed.) project in Plaisir, led us to mobilise the company on this strategic subject.
FM: What conditions did the site have to meet?
AS: We wanted a location accessible from the A13, a road with the unrivalled potential of 108,000 vehicles/day, with access via a complete interchange as well (entrance and exit from Paris and Normandy), less than 30 minutes from Paris and less than 15 minutes from Versailles, Parly 2 and Saint Germain en Laye. Hence our partnership with the Altarea Cogedim group on the Aubergenville Family Village site…
There were of course other advantages, such as having a CDAC (French Departmental Committee for Commercial Development, ed.). Marques Avenue is taking over 130,000 square feet in operation from it to be demolished, redesigned and rebuilt. Also, the site has received indisputable authorisation to open on Sundays.
FM: You said you would like to make a sort of Marques Avenue version V2. Can you explain that please?
AS: It is an emblematic operation at the gates of Paris. We want it to be seen as innovative on the European level. And thus impose Marques Avenue as a key brand. This means really making Marques Avenue A13 a destination site. Consumers are no longer required to go to physical stores to shop. This is true for traditional trade but also for outlet stores. Customers need to be given the right reasons to physically visit a store and to keep coming back!
FM: How are you going to go about this?
AS: We have, for the entire concept, decided to call upon French design firm Saguez & Partners which, until now, was only involved in working on Marques Avenue's visual identity. Previously we were working with the Jean Michel Wilmotte architecture firm but our research showed us that we need a more feminine environment than this firm is used to do doing (their general palette consists of grey, ed.). Shoppers will wander through a village entirely made of wood where each of the 68 stores will stand out for its volume, loftiness and specific shop front. Indeed, every brand was invited to choose the organisation and the layout of its windows, the type of wood used, its shingling, and the colour among a choice of 432 possible combinations. Vegetation will be present throughout. Added to this is the experience of a village entire thought out and developed following the codes of the ski resorts found in Western France, with a few touches of Ile de Ré and Cap-Ferret, but also the spirit of the Hamptons. There will be huge sand dunes, maritime pines, driftwood, etc. We are actually applying to the BREEAM label (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology, ed.).
FM: And what is the offer in all this?
AS: We plan to diversify the array of brands we offer and move up in range. Without losing view, however, of providing Marques Avenue A13 stores that are strong enough to attract flows. An example: brands like Nike and Adidas bring in 40% of the traffic at a Marques Avenue site, regardless of which one it is. These brands will of course be present. The marketing has been launched but it is still much too early to name such or such a brand. All while keeping in mind that in 20 years we have signed some 650 lease agreements!
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