PLACING PEOPLE FIRST
The Peel Group is one of the leading infrastructure, transport and real estate investors in the UK, with collective investments owned and under management of more than £5bn. Here, RLI sits down with Adrian Wright, Leasing Director at Peels Outlet division, Lifestyle Outlets to discuss the portfolio and what the future holds for the outlet industry.
Established by Chairman John Whittaker over 40 years ago, The Peel Group has grown through an ethos of recycling capital and long-term investments, and in the process they have gained a reputation for visionary regeneration projects. The Group is family-owned and its principal investments encompass Land & Property, Transport & Logistics, Energy and Retail & Leisure, primarily in the North of England.
Lifestyle Outlets within Peel Land & Property currently manages two operational outlet centres, and these are located in Gloucester and Manchester. The past financial year has been an excellent one for Lifestyle Outlets, as they have seen visitor numbers rise by 6.4 per cent, whilst visitor spend has increased by 11.1 per cent year-on-year.
“These figures are the result of our ethos where people come first because people make places great,” says Adrian Wright, Leasing Director at Lifestyle Outlets. “We are challenging the soullessness of traditional centres and redefining expectations to create a better generation of outlet destinations.”
Recently the company has developed in Gloucester the Restaurant Quarter, and this now offers a dozen exciting brands which include Côte Brasserie, Zizzi, Bill’s, Carluccio’s, Loungers, TGI Friday and Wagamama. A range of new retail openings have also launched and include Ted Baker, Jack Wills, Joules, Cath Kidston and Lindt, plus its important new opening of an Adidas store.
Meanwhile at its Manchester location, the centre has extended the Virgin Health & Fitness facility to 34,000sq ft and they are currently constructing impressive new shop fronts to every unit as part of the overall redevelopment and transformation of the centre. Looking ahead, Lifestyle Outlets is developing the Glasgow Harbour outlet project in Scotland at a cost of £100M. The scheme will incorporate retail, leisure, dining and entertainment and is currently due to open in 2021 and will become the country’s premier outlet.
“In Manchester we are developing “The Watergardens”, an elegant dining concept which is being designed by architects Chapman Taylor which will maximize the waterfront location with a variety of new restaurants benefitting from the best waterside views in Manchester,” says Wright.
This development will include biophilic design principles that will strengthen the connection between nature and natural elements and the man-made environment. Manchester will also see a new luxury cinema complex delivered with Peel’s partners Vue Cinemas, plus an exciting new 30,000sq ft leisure attraction.
Meanwhile in Gloucester, the team continues to develop the centre with further retail and restaurant units plus the development of new event space to incorporate such events as the Victorian Christmas Market, which is now the largest of its kind in the South West of England. So what does Wright view as Lifestyle Outlets’ key point of difference and what has been its most important investment over the past 12 months?
“Our key point of difference is that we seek to put people first and make places great. This is achieved by developing a better generation of outlets through the creation of destinations tailored to the needs and lifestyles of people in the region, wider catchments and tourists, thereby becoming an integral part of their everyday lives.”
Even though Brexit is almost upon us and that the effects of it are unknown, Wright feels people will still continue to shop, eat and enjoy leisure time at great locations, and that visitors will still continue to travel to the UK so the tourism market remains an important focus for Lifestyle Outlets.
Social Media is an integral part of the company’s marketing activity. They use the medium to share its big new stories regarding the portfolio, and utilise a more bespoke approach when talking with specific retailers and agents. Lasting relationships is pivotal to Lifestyle Outlets and the company values highly the individual relationships they enjoy with their retail and leisure partners and their agents.
Lasting relationships is pivotal to Lifestyle Outlets and the company values highly the individual relationships they enjoy with their retail and leisure partners and their agents. “We seek to create lasting partnerships through specific meetings, events, social activities and ongoing communication in order to build and maintain those relationships across both our centres and our group offices,” explains Wright.
Lifestyle Outlets draws inspiration from continually talking to its customers, its retail and leisure partners and from monitoring the ever-changing activities and trends across the retail market globally. So looking forward, what is the key challenge that Lifestyle Outlets will face in the upcoming months? “The key challenge for our group is to maintain our clear focus on placing people first, and constantly seeking to create places where people can relax and be themselves.”