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LVMH-Backed Investor Eyes £1B Stake In Bicester Village Owner

Prada's Bicester outlet

A private equity firm backed by LVMH and the family office of its founder is in conversations about buying a stake in the company that owns Bicester Village.

L Catterton has held talks with Hammerson, which is selling a 40% stake in Value Retail for £1B to £1.2B, React News reported. 

There is no certainty of a deal being done, and talks have been on and off, with L Catterton offering less than the £1.2B Hammerson is looking for, according to React.

Any deal would see an investor backed by one of the world’s biggest luxury retail owners take a stake in a business that has built its fortune on discounted high-end fashion sales, with a strong focus on tourist shoppers. The family office of LVMH founder Bernard Arnault is also a backer of L Catterton.

Bicester Village in Oxfordshire is focused on upscale and luxury retail and is often cited as achieving the highest sales per SF of any retail scheme internationally. Retailers have tended not to open other designer outlet stores in the south of England. 

The 245K SF outlet centre 65 miles north-west of London is estimated to be visited by up to 80% of the roughly 350,000 Chinese visitors to the UK every year. The platform at Marylebone station, from which trains to the nearest town depart, has signs and announcements in Mandarin, and Bicester Village employs about 150 Mandarin speakers.

It receives 7 million visits annually, attracting shoppers from Middle Eastern royals to the average bargain hunter.

Value Retail also has locations in Shanghai and Suzhou in China that are branded under the Bicester Village name. It also has centres in cities like Barcelona, Frankfurt, Madrid and Milan.

Belmont Park Village in New York is scheduled to open next summer.

Hammerson upped its stake in Value Retail in February 2018 with a £76M investment as it focused on growing its premium outlet business, but earlier this year, CEO Rita-Rose Gagné said that investment was no longer envisaged as a long-term hold.

Value Retail’s other shareholders include founder Scott Malkin, U.S. retail giant Simon Property Group and Dutch pension fund APG, none of whom are bidding for Hammerson’s stake, React reported.