Throughout much of Europe, purpose-built factory outlet villages have emerged as a new retail format only during the last decade. A new report from Retail Intelligence, "Factory outlet centres in Europe", states that the factory outlet centre (FOC) market in the UK is nearly twice that of all Continental Europe. Now attention is focusing on opportunities across the channel.

According to data provided by Healey & Baker, there are 57 purpose built factory outlet centre (FOC) schemes operational in Europe, offering a total floorspace of 746,409 sq ms.

Europe: Existing Factory Outlet Floorspace by Country, September 2000 (sq m)
Source: Healey & Baker and Retail Intelligence 2000

The UK is by far the most important market, having 54 per cent of the total in terms of number of schemes (31) and 49 per cent in terms of floorspace (369,369 sq m).

France ranks as the second most developed market in Europe for modern factory outlet centre schemes, accounting for 19 per cent of the total number (11) in Europe and 28 per cent of total floorspace (208,440 sq m).

There is great potential for the development of FOCs elsewhere in Europe, the report discovered. Despite strong opposition, there are currently pipeline proposals for: a further 49 factory outlet schemes across Europe offering a total of 794,032 sq m of floorspace.

Retail Intelligence predicts that, by 2003 the UK and France will remain the two leading markets in Europe for factory outlet centres, with 40 and 13 schemes respectively, while Germany, Italy and Spain will vie for third place, all with nine schemes in operation.

France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain are all set to outperform Europe as a whole in terms of FOC development.

The market is characterised by a small number of specialist developers: nine operators account for just over three-quarters of all factory outlet centre floorspace in Europe. They include, BAA McArthurGlen, Concepts & Distribution, Freeport, MEPC and Silvio Tarchini.

The report predicts that further consolidation will take place as the sector develops, plus the use of FOCs as regeneration projects. The growth in FOC popularity will lead to increasing investment and also the differentiation of the offer through segmentation.

The report is available for sale in the Just-Style Knowledge Store. For more information, click here.