New factory outlet centre near Amsterdam may be last straw for shops on brink

The Style Outlets is a pastiche of Dutch architecture. Photo: Kim van Dam/HH/ANP
The Style Outlets is a pastiche of Dutch architecture. Photo: Kim van Dam/HH/ANP

A factory outlet centre which is opening its doors in the Amsterdam region on Thursday has local fashion retailers worried, local broadcaster NOS reports.

The Style Outlet, the fourth outlet centre of this size in the Netherlands, is owned by Spanish project developer Neinver, and is located at Halfweg, to the west of Amsterdam. It has 115 shops, 75% of which has been let.

The aim of the centre is to attract two million visitors a year. ‘We were thinking tourists would come straight to the centre from the airport,’ director Marcel Herben told the broadcaster. ‘That is now not going to happen (..). But we are seeing that, despite the coronavirus crisis, this type of centre remains attractive to shoppers.’

Local fashion retailers in and around Amsterdam fear the centre will impact on their already small margins and deplete city centres. Legal procedures to stop the centre from opening, which have been successful in Zoetermeer and Assen, did not work in this case.

‘Haarlem and surrounding towns are already having to cope with empty shops in the high street and this will make things worse. People who buy there will not buy from us,’ Haarlem fashion shop owner Marjolein van der Goen told the broadcaster.

Local shop owners generally profit from the presence of an outlet centre by about a 20% rise in turnover but in the case of Amsterdam and Haarlem that will not be the case,’ marketeer Gert-Jan Slob said.

Slob is, however, more optimistic about the effects of a new outlet centre on local profits.’There are some 30 or 40 shopping areas that will share the pain. We mustn’t exaggerate. People go to an outlet centre perhaps two times a year. But there’s the virus, so for shops that are on the brink this may be the final straw.’

The timing of the opening of the outlet centre, one day before Black Friday, has raised eyebrows because of possible high visitor numbers. Only 2,000 people will be allowed in at the time, Herben said, and stewards will remind people to keep to the social distancing rule.

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