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Provence gets its first designer outlet

Shoppers promised prices of 30-70% off while 600 jobs are created in €120m project

An ancient Provençal mas is the centrepiece of a new growth industry in France – designer outlets, with European market leader McArthur Glen opening its third in the country today between Aix-en-Provence and Arles.

The new McArthur Glen Provence is an upscale version of a factory shop and offers leading labels with price tags showing 30-70% off – plus 600 jobs.

The company already has ‘villages de marques’ at Troyes in Aube and Roubaix in Nord and it says its new site at Miramas, near Salon-de-Provence is the first designer outlet in the south – although there are about 30 in the rest of the country, with McArthur Glen having another one planned in Eure, Normandy.

Giving the new village a Provençal look and feel, the company aims to lure shoppers from Aix, just 45minutes away, and Marseille, about 50. Sitting near the crossroads of the A7, A8 and A54, it will also lure tourists as a cut-price day shopping for luxury labels in the 120 shops – although only 80 are occupied for the opening.

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The mas at the edge of the 20 hectare site has plane and cypress trees to give some shade from the Provençal sun but the company foresees a bright future for its €120million project as it expects 2.5m shoppers and €100m of business a year.

Included in the line-up of shops joining it is American Vintage, Angelo, Claudie Pierlot, Courrèges, Hermès, Karl Lagerfeld, L'Oréal, Maje, Puma, Salomon, Sandro, The Kooples and Zadig & Voltaire.

The April issue of The Connexion has an article on how one village fought back against out-of-town shopping causing the slow death of its centre - and has managed to increase the number of businesses and lure new residents. You may still find a paper in good shops - or buy a pdf online here

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