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East Midlands Chamber News

Member Focus: McArthurGlen East Midlands Designer Outlet

Since joining McArthurGlen East Midlands Designer Outlet as centre manager early in 2020, David Jackson (pictured) has been charged with the task of safely reopening one of the region’s most important shopping centres while continuing its growth. He explains to Business Network how the centre has performed and the wider role of outlet shopping in retail. 

Tell us how you ended up at East Midlands Designer Outlet, including your career so far and why you decided to join?

I have worked in retail since I was 19 and started my career at Next PLC, working in sales and operations before moving into area management. In 2017, I joined McArthurGlen as retail manager, before being swiftly appointed as deputy centre manager of Ashford Designer Outlet, overseeing the largest single redevelopment within the McArthurGlen group. I was then offered the role of centre manager at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet East Midlands, where I’ve focused on growing the centre’s impressive retail portfolio and evolving its food and beverage offering.

What do you think makes East Midlands Designer Outlet an important asset for the region?

East Midlands Designer Outlet is a key asset to the region as one of its leading premium shopping destinations, easily accessible for guests travelling from Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.

The centre is home to over 70 sought-after fashion, lifestyle, beauty and homeware brands, all with up to 60% off RRP. Alongside our excellent mix of brands, the centre also boasts an impressive selection of cafes and eateries.

Everyone talks about the struggles of the high street, but how is outlet shopping faring?

While I’m not in a position to speak on behalf of other companies, I do know that we’re feeling extremely optimistic. When we welcomed customers back after the first national lockdown, we saw an encouraging increase in visitor numbers, which translated into stronger performance for our brand partner stores. Moving forward, we’ll continue to work with our brand partners to offer guests an exceptional shopping experience in a safe and secure environment.

What do you think the future looks like for retail and where does outlet shopping fit within this?

While the pandemic has disrupted the industry, we believe there’s a real opportunity for physical retail to revolutionise the landscape and continue to offer memorable experiences for guests. At the centre, we’re thrilled to have welcomed three new stores recently – Barbour, Molton Brown and Under Armour – despite the current challenging climate as we know our guests still want choice and value.

How long have you been a member of East Midlands Chamber, and what encouraged you to join and continue your membership?

I signed up 10 months ago, shortly after joining the centre. I find the Chamber offers very useful insights and it has also provided both myself and the centre the opportunity to grow our network to become fully integrated in the local business community. The centre itself has been a dedicated member for over a decade now.

Which membership products have you used and how did they help your business?

The Chamber has offered conference calls during the height of lockdown, which were incredibly useful as they presented additional unique insight into the impact of the crisis, specifically on retailers within the East Midlands. Prior to this, their events have also been very beneficial in helping us to network with other businesses in the region.

What do you believe is the most important role of a chamber of commerce?

For me, the most important role a chamber of commerce plays is supporting and celebrating the local business community. East Midlands Chamber acts to unify businesses, including McArthurGlen Designer Outlet East Midlands, and helps them to thrive as a commercial hub.

This article appears in the December 2020/January 2021 issue of the Chamber's Business Network magazine. To read the online edition, click here.