Three outlet villages are set to open in Finland in 2018-2020, signalling investors' trust in Finland as an attractive and safe business expansion destination.
The first off the mark is Zsar Outlet Village which will be launched before the end of this year with 65 premium and luxury brands in Vaalimaa, the EU's biggest border control point with Russia. Located halfway between St. Petersburg and Helsinki, Vaalimaa will have an estimated 3.5 million border crossings in 2018. Finnish investors and international brands are investing about EUR 50 million in the first phase of the project.
According to Zsar Outlet Village, it offers a unique opportunity to tap into demand for premium quality brands from 8.5 million affluent, brand-oriented Russian and Finnish consumers within a 200km radius as well as a remarkable number of Asian tourists visiting Finland. Its brand partners include Armani, Hugo Boss, Nike, Guess, Le Creuset, Maya Maya, Sunsolo and Stayer. Italian shoe brand Bagatt, luxury hand bag company Braccialini and luxury ladieswear brand Flavio Castellani will open their first stores in the Nordics at Zsar Outlet Village.
Norwegian company Fortus AS is investing EUR 50 million in the Helsinki Outlet project which is scheduled to open in Vantaa in November 2019, according to Helsingin Sanomat. The first phase of the project includes 10,000 square metres of store space, 3–5 restaurants and cafes, and a children's playground.
According to Fortus, the outlet village shops will sell Finnish, Scandinavian and Global brands in fashion, outdoor, leisure and home décor. Anchor tenants include Hugo Boss, Gant, Marimekko, Tiger of Sweden and Guess. With 40 fashion and lifestyle stores, Fortus aims to attract two million visitors annually to the outlet village.
"The location in the capital area, directly on two of the most important highways, close to the airport, and with Finland's largest IKEA as the closest neighbour is unique. The outlet village's inexpensive and attractive differentiated shopping experience will also be attracting people from all over Finland, from Russia, and also international passengers at the Helsinki-Vantaa international airport," says Ådne Søndrål, Fortus, in a statement.
The Kotka Old Port project recently selected Freeport as the operator for its outlet center. When completed in autumn 2019, Kotka Old Port will also offer food, culture, museums and entertainment in addition to the outlet shopping experience, aimed to attract both domestic and foreign visitors, including Chinese, Russian and British tourists.
"We have been looking for a suitable opportunity in Finland for over 5 years. Outlets play an important role in helping brands clear surplus stock and giving customers the chance to buy their favourite brands at great prices – Finland needs a top-class designer outlet and Kotka is the best location for it," says Freeport CEO Iestyn Roberts in a statement.
"The recent multimillion-euro investments in outlet villages clearly show that Finland is seen as an interesting investment destination. Finland's location between the East and West, and rapidly increasing number of tourists offer an excellent combination for investors and retailers alike," says Tuija Tommila Investment Advisor at Business Finland's Visit Finland unit.
International travel to Finland broke all records in 2017. Foreign tourists made 8.3 million visits to Finland and the nights spent by foreign tourists increased by more than 813,000 to a total of 6.6 million. Shopping opportunities are traditionally a major factor driving Russian tourism to Finland.
"In 2017, spending by foreign visitors in Finland increased by 22% to more than EUR 4 billion. The shopping tourism trend boosts the travel industry where Finland also offers many attractive investment opportunities," says Tommila.
Business Finland, Visit Finland
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tuija.tommila (at) businessfinland.fi