Work has begun on-site at the Grantham Designer Outlet Village, a destination that could create up to 1,500 full and part time jobs after it opens in 2023, in a resounding endorsement of the economic opportunities that bricks-and-mortar retail destinations bring.

With designer outlets having shown continued resilience, both before and coming out of the pandemic, the development is a clear vote of confidence in the sector and in the opportunity the site offers to brands. The new destination will represent a blueprint for a modern designer outlet village in a digital age, intricately designed to provide a comprehensive customer experience, drawing on the development team’s creativity and successes in delivering such destinations.

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With its location at the heart of the East Midlands, the scheme will be one of only a few premium designer outlets in the UK to front directly onto a major arterial route: the A1, being the UK’s third busiest road. The adjoining new junction on to the A1 is due to open by September 2021. Bowmer + Kirkland, one of the UK’s most successful private construction companies, is the development’s main contractor,  and has started delivery of Phase One of the 270,000 sq ft designer outlet village.

The scheme, which is being developed by Grantham-based property investor Buckminster, and designer outlet retail specialists Rioja Estates, will provide a major boost to the area’s long-term economic future, bringing £100 million of inward investment. Together with the County Council’s construction of the £100m Grantham Southern Relief Road, Buckminster’s nearby 3,700-home Garden Village, and South Kesteven District Council’s plans to revitalise the attractive market town of Grantham, this scheme is part of a co-ordinated ‘levelling up’ regenerative economic drive for Lincolnshire.

At the ground-breaking ceremony on 17 March to mark the start on site, Giles Membrey, a pioneer of the designer outlet retail market and Managing Director of Rioja Estates, said: “Machines on the ground today will create opportunities for local residents, businesses, and national and international brands tomorrow.  Our scheme will offer a memorable day out for those who live nearby and those from farther afield, while retailers and restaurants that open here will benefit from a catchment that includes the residents, students, workers and tourists of towns and cities such as Cambridge, Nottingham, Leicester, and Lincoln. We are supporting local jobs both during and beyond construction, and are championing Grantham which will benefit from additional footfall from visitors to the outlet village.”

Also present at the ground-breaking ceremony were Councillor Kelham Cooke, Leader of South Kesteven District Council; William Lee, Director at Buckminster; and Gary Bradley, Regional Director of Bowmer + Kirkland.

While designer outlet villages had been outperforming full-price retail destinations even before the pandemic, Covid-19 has created a further shift towards the sector. Featuring open air and spacious designs, outlet villages are well-suited to the Covid-conscious consumer. In addition, as many households prioritise finding good deals due to squeezed finances, designer outlets deliver a successful combination of branded and stylish wares at great value. The Grantham Designer Outlet Village will benefit from these trends, and has been predicted to be one of the UK’s top performing outlet centres by Pragma.

The team behind the Grantham Designer Outlet Village combines local knowledge with extensive international outlet expertise, and a track record of delivery across the UK and Europe. Rioja Estates has an impressive list of projects that includes successful designer outlets for McArthurGlen in the UK: at Bridgend, Swindon, East Midlands, and, opening this spring, Cannock, West Midlands; Premier Outlets Budapest in Hungary, as well as Alpes The Style Outlets for Neinver in France. Buckminster, as a property business investing in the Grantham Designer Outlet Village, stewards its centuries-old connection to the town, acts as a master residential developer, and has an expanding commercial property portfolio in Grantham and the region.

Sir Richard Tollemache, Chairman at Buckminster, said: “The Grantham Designer Outlet Village offers us not only the opportunity to create one of the UK’s most successful outlet retail destinations, but to build a better future for our community in Grantham. As a family-run, Grantham-based business we are incredibly passionate about this project because we believe in the benefits it will bring to the area: new jobs, new investment and new visitors to the town centre. The Grantham Designer Outlet Village will be absolutely driven by its contribution to our local economy and society from day one.”

The Grantham Designer Outlet Village will embrace the latest retail and societal trends as one of the first post-pandemic shopping destinations to open in the UK. Featuring open air boulevards and covered walkways that allow for easy social distancing and fresh air, the scheme will also contain many benefits that ensure retailers can continue trading, no matter the circumstances, including an e-commerce platform and delivery service.

Featuring up to 90 stores, restaurants and coffee shops in Phase One, with up to 50 more proposed for Phase Two, the Grantham Designer Outlet Village is projected to achieve turnover of £400 per sq ft initially, rising to £500 per sq ft in Phase Two. Rioja Estates are in advanced talks with household brands from across Europe that are expected to delight shoppers when the first names are announced later this year.

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