VIA Outlets signals change in structure with new CEO

The ownership structure of Europe’s fastest-growing owner operator of fashion outlet shopping destinations looks set to change, EuroProperty reports.

Talks have kicked off between the stakeholders of VIA Outlets, which controls 11 centres across Europe and whose brands in the portfolio made more than €1 bn of sales last year.

VIA Outlets was set up in 2014 as a joint venture between Dutch pension fund manager APG, UK REIT Hammerson, investment manager Meyer Bergman and outlet specialist Value Retail.

As a first step in anticipation of the new future structure, the stakeholders have appointed Otto Ambagtsheer (as previously reported here) as the new CEO, said the company. Ambagtsheer joined as COO in September 2018 from Unibail-RodamcoWestfield where he served as managing director for Benelux.

Responding to a question over the significance of the timing over Ambagtsheer’s elevation from COO to CEO, the company said: ‘The four principal stakeholders of VIA Outlets are currently discussing the future structure of the fund, allowing for future growth and development of the VIA Outlets management platform. ‘In anticipation of this future structure, as a first step, the stakeholders have appointed Otto Ambagtsheer as the new CEO, succeeding Jeremy Cohen and Duncan Agar, the former co-CEOs of VIA Outlets, who both have resumed their roles within Value Retail.’

Factory outlet centres are one of the few bright spots in retail and though underpressure retail specialist Hammerson is shedding some assets such as UK retail parks, it is thought keen to retain exposure to factory outlets.

Fashion outlets are seeing plenty of corporate activity with Spanish reports in January this year suggesting Neinver is up for sale with a price tag of more than €500 mln. It has been suggested that some owners see now as an opportune time to cash in on demand for the asset type.

Earlier this month Via Outlets announced strong results for H1 2019 and said its ‘3 Rs’ strategy – Remodelling, Remerchandising and Remarketing – delivered strong performance in 2018 and the first half of 2019 with a 10% increase in brand sales and 8% increase in footfall.

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