Designer Outlet Cotswolds launch highlights growth potential for the UK retail sector

Cheltenham-based developer Robert Hitchins Ltd and leading European outlet operating company ROS Retail Outlet Shopping have unveiled plans for Designer Outlet Cotswolds to be built at junction 9 of the M5 motorway in Gloucestershire. The 195,000 sq ft outlet village will be opened in two phases and will feature some 90 retail units, restaurants and cafes. Construction is due to start on site in autumn 2020 with the first phase expected to open towards the end of 2021.

The architecturally-appealing designer village will benefit from a sizeable local catchment, millions of vehicles passing near the site each year, and high visitor numbers to one of Britain’s top tourism regions. Local shoppers living in the area are expected to account for over half of total annual revenue with passing traffic plus tourism predicted to provide the remainder.

The scheme is part of a wider retail development including a new 81,800 sq ft garden centre, alongside an existing M&S supermarket, Starbucks and BP petrol filling station which, combined, will provide additional attractions to the site. A planning application for 850 homes, school and local centre to the south has also been submitted and is awaiting determination.

The development is the first venture in the UK by ROS Retail Outlet Shopping and shows its confidence both in the British retail sector and, in particular, the growth potential of outlet shopping. The Vienna-headquartered company, one of the top five outlet operators in Europe, currently manages 10 outlet centres in Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Croatia and Hungary. It specialises in developing, managing and operating innovative shopping concepts and its team brings together extensive management know-how from leading retail destination operators and real estate development companies.

Thomas Reichenauer, co-founder and managing director of ROS Retail Outlet Shopping, said: “With our specialism in designer outlets across Europe, and our in-depth knowledge of different markets, we see tremendous potential for the UK retail sector. This is especially true for outlet shopping which has been bucking trends in the UK for several years generating significant interest amongst top brands and customers in the concept. Having been founded in 2011, we’re a young company but with a team that brings experience, expertise and track-record built up over many years.”

Designer Outlet Cotswolds will feature aspirational brands across fashion, athleisure, footwear and lifestyle at up to 70% off RRP throughout the year along with quality restaurants and coffee shops. The scheme will be an easily accessible, aspirational premium outlet village, serving affluent towns and cities on the Bristol to Birmingham corridor, including Cheltenham, Worcester, Solihull and Hereford.

Simon Tothill, Property & Development Director of Robert Hitchins Ltd, said: “Designer Outlet Cotswolds will be an eye-catching development reflecting the architecture and materials of the historic towns and villages of the Cotswolds. We’ll be creating a state-of-the-art retail destination with contemporary and adaptable units suited to the needs of modern shopping and dining. With a comfortable and welcoming environment, this will be a memorable addition to a day-out in the Cotswolds. We’re very excited about the development plans and look forward to completing the scheme and welcoming customers from near and far.”

More than 9.8 million people live within 90 minutes’ drive of the site and the population within 60 minutes is some 42 per cent greater in number than the average for other UK outlet centres. The catchment within 30 minutes’ drive time is particularly affluent and fast growing and will represent up to half of the visitor numbers.

The development will be one of the most accessible retail and leisure destinations in the UK for residents and visitors to the area alike. As well as the nearby M5 motorway, the site is adjacent to the A46 trunk road which links to the M42. As a result, more than 21 million vehicles pass the development each year. Additionally, the site is close to Ashchurch-for-Tewkesbury railway station on the main Bristol–Birmingham main line.

The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) attracts over 23 million visitors annually. Major tourist attractions within the region include the historic towns of Tewkesbury, Cheltenham and Worcester as well as the Cotswolds, Forest of Dean and Malvern Hills.