Here Come The Outlets: Italian Retail Group Investing $910 Million In Chinese “Shopping Villages”

Italian Retail Giant RDM Will Build Five “Florentia Village” Outlet Centers

The first "Florentia Village" near Tianjin (Graphic: Value Retail News)

The first "Florentia Village" near Tianjin (Graphic: Value Retail News)

With pawn shops and second-hand shops specializing in luxury goods growing in number, and a handful of upstarts adapting the “flash sale” model for the Chinese market, it was only a matter of time before new outlet malls began to move up the value chain in China. This week, the Italian retailer RDM announced that it will invest nearly US$1 billion to build five “Italian-style” high-end luxury outlet malls throughout China, operating under the name “Florentia Village.” Although RDM’s plans for a chain of luxury outlets took shape last summer, the company has yet to definitively map out its strategy. According to Xinhua, RDM’s first luxury outlet complex is set to open in Wuqing, near Tianjin, on May 19. The $67 million village will feature around 200 outlet stores for brands like Burberry and Louis Vuitton.

“Florentia Village will have true Italian genes,” Ivano Poma, managing director of RDM Asia Ltd, recently told Value Retail News. “Our aim is to substantially raise the bar in the China outlet market, in the level of construction, the management style and the quality.” Located close to two of China’s largest cities, Florentia Village will have a potential customer base of more than 25 million residents within a 90-minute drive, 18 million people live within a 60-minute drive, and 10 million live with a 30-minute drive. The outlet will also be located near the high-speed train line linking Tianjin and Beijing.

Although RDM has yet to disclose its plans for future complexes in China, this week Poma told Xinhua that the company chose the Tianjin area for its first shopping village “because of its potential to attract a new generation of stylish Chinese consumers with growing disposable incomes in the luxury sector.” Tianjin has seen an influx of luxury-focused companies rushing in over the past year, from polo clubs to cruise lines, as the city has taken great pains to give itself a high-end makeover.