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Looking towards the future of retail: Westfield Mall of the Netherlands

By Partner


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Set to unveil in March 2021 next to The Hague, Mall of the Netherlands will be the first international shopping complex in the Randstad, the economic heart of the Netherlands, with the potential to reach 8 million surrounding inhabitants. The project is headed by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, a global developer and operator of flagship destinations that sets its ambition to create places of experience with respect for the environment and contribute to planning ‘better cities’. Mostly, Westfield Mall of the Netherlands aims to be the ideal marketplace for retailers to further revolutionize their omnichannel strategy.

Retail icon, Peek & Cloppenburg, has also chosen Mall of the Netherlands to open its new 4,500 m2 international flagship concept store. Marc Hoeben, Country Manager at P&C said in a press statement, “These extraordinary times ask for brands that evolve with the changing demands of our customers and shopping at the Mall will be an event that goes far beyond shopping alone.” Bart van Twillert, Country Manager at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield further added, “I am always impressed to see how P&C has evolved and continuously reinvent themselves to remain customer centric and relevant in the market.” FashionUnited recently interviewed URW via email on how they’re developing Mall of the Netherlands into a destination where retailers embark on the journey to fully integrate online and offline retail offerings.

As shoppers now are living in an era defined as “change is the only constant,” how does this come into play in the retail landscape?

Previously, malls were very static. Today, mall owners and retailers need to work together to accommodate the dynamics in retail. Trends have a shorter cycle, people are less loyal to brands and want to be inspired and entertained and meet each other. That is what Westfield is creating: a vibrant and dynamic place where people can meet one another as well as brands. Traditional marketing channels have lost power, but brands need to remain in contact with their clients.

Can you tell us how Westfield Mall of the Netherlands sees the future of retail?

Retail is changing to omni-channel and that is impacting the role of physical stores. Historically, physical stores were mostly “points of distribution” between factories, wholesale and consumers. Stores remain relevant, as a contact point between consumer and brand; hence the marketing role of stores has increased: from distribution to ‘showrooming’.

Brands and retailers need less stores, but the stores that do remain need to breathe the brand identity: in terms of concept stores or flagship stores. And they need to be in an environment that offers multiple experiences to consumers, from food to leisure and even entertainment.

Westfield Mall of the Netherlands will re-invent the Dutch retail landscape that was built on a very strict planning regime. Previously, malls were not allowed in the Netherlands and this policy has never pushed retailers to innovate. The result is an oversupply of suffering medium-sized retail centers with an incomplete offer. URW’s large flagship malls offer that complete fulfilment and are therefore a great fit for retailers who change their business model to omnichannel.

Who do you see as the customer and how important is engagement and sense of community to them?

Westfield Mall of the Netherlands targets three levels of customers. First, the people who live around the center for their daily needs. An example is Fresh!, where residential shoppers can find everything at this marketplace for fresh food as well as convenience stores and two large supermarkets.

The second level are the regional customers looking for inspiration during the day or afternoon trip, from the latest fashion trends to cinema and dining options.

National and international tourists are the third group of customers. With many sightseeing spots close by, such as the Keukenhof, beaches, ancient towns-Mall of the Netherlands is a great destination for a combined visit. We expect around 15 million visitors annually.

Peek & Cloppenburg will open a 4,500 m2 new international flagship concept store at Westfield Mall of the Netherlands, what innovative offerings will be presented?

Peek & Cloppenburg is a retail icon that previously had a large presence in NL, with more than 60 stores and has proven to be a solid business partner throughout the years. But they were not allowed to sell all the brands they had in their stores abroad, like they did in Germany. Therefore they reduced their presence in our country to only three stores. Consumers like multi-brand stores where they can choose their new outfit by combining different brands. Still, brands are becoming very selective about which retailers can carry their brand.

Now, P&C will relaunch themselves here again, starting with a flagship store in Mall of the Netherlands with a completely new concept. There will also be many renowned brands, from mid-range to premium such as Hugo Boss, Polo Ralph Lauren, Gant, Tommy Hilfiger, Lacoste, Calvin Klein and Karl Lagerfeld. We are delighted that P&C joins our mission to re-invent Dutch retail by doing the same with their own brand!

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