Hammerson has announced that its flagship destinations in England are to re-open from 15 June, in line with the latest guidance from the UK Government. This follows the re-opening of four destinations in France in May, (Les Terrasses du Port, Marseille; Nicetoile, Nice; Espace Saint Quentin, Paris; Italie Deux, Paris). The remaining two flagship destinations in Paris, (Les 3 Fontaines and O’Parinor) will open tomorrow (2 June).
Across the premium outlets portfolio, nine of the 11 VIA Outlets schemes are trading, with the first of those re-opening back in April. Three of the VIA Outlets schemes have remained open throughout. Five of the nine European Value Retail Villages are currently trading, with Bicester Village expected to also re-open on 15 June. All of the Value Retail and VIA Outlets assets are expected to be open by the middle of this month.
Hammerson’s flagship destinations in Scotland are currently closed, with the exception of essential stores. In Ireland, there will be a phased re-opening of stores, beginning with small retail outlets. By the end of June, around 30% of Dundrum is expected to be open, with 40% and 20% at Swords and Illac respectively. Of Hammerson’s eight retail parks, seven have been open for essential retail during the lockdown period, and all but one of the parks will fully re-open on 15 June.
Hammerson created a dedicated working group to direct and coordinate preparations for reopening its destinations across the portfolio back in April. As part of this initiative, comprehensive plans tailored to each centre’s footprint, footfall, and tenant base have been created to ensure social distancing and safety guidance is clear. The company has also been in regular contact with all the brands in its centres to ensure both that they are updating their processes, and that they have the support they need from an operations perspective.
The business has introduced a range of measures to keep its customers safe at its flagship destinations. These include:
- Introduction of one way systems where required
- Clear signage throughout the destinations reminding consumers of the need to follow social distancing guidance, and to avoid shopping in large groups
- Using the centres’ communication channels including social media, digital in-mall displays and tannoy announcements to remind visitors about how to stay safe
- Enhanced cleaning processes, with a clear focus on key customer touchpoints
- Live monitoring of footfall to ensure there aren’t too many people in a centre at any one time
- Introduction of queuing outside the destinations when required to manage capacity
- Installation of fixed hand sanitiser stations throughout each destination
- All customer-facing centre colleagues will wear protective clothing
- Customers will be encouraged to use contactless payment with retailers for transactions
Mark Bourgeois, UK and Ireland Managing Director, said: “It has been a really challenging time for everyone, and we are hugely grateful to the key workers and our centre colleagues that have done so much for us over the past few months. We have developed a comprehensive set of measures to keep people safe and we have technology in place to allow us to monitor visitor numbers, to ensure there are never too many people in our spaces at any one time. What is clear from our re-opening experience in France and across the premium outlets portfolio is that consumers are adjusting to how to shop in this new environment. Sales levels at these destinations have been encouraging to date, although it is still very early days. We are looking forward to re-opening and welcoming back our customers in the coming months.”