Thursday, 16 January 2014

Retail therapy at the London Designer Outlet Village

 I don’t know about you, but I love to bag a bargain.

From time to time I like to motor up the M40 with a girlfriend in tow, for a bit of retail therapy at Bicester Village. It takes me about an hour to get there from where I live in Ealing. The parking is free and easy, and the get-away out of West London is usually uncomplicated. There are some acceptable pit stops for lunch in the retail village itself, and there’s a pretty good play area for the little ones if they are in on the action as well. All in all I find going to Bicester easier and less stressful than a trip to the Oxford Street, with the prospect of a good deal thrown in to add to my enjoyment.

If you've not been before, you can find out all about Bicester Outlet Village here:

Today, however, I am happy to report that we have our very own discount shopping centre under development at Wembley Stadium. I went there yesterday with a view to doing a little bit of market research. The people in the shops told me that they’d only opened a couple of months’ ago, so it’s all pretty recent.

You can find their website here:

Now I have to say straight out, and without wanting to belittle this newcomer to the shopping scene, that it’s not in the same league as Bicester. It doesn’t have any of the fancy-pants, high-end labels, but if you fancy a bit of cut-price, mid-market, everyday clobber it’s not a bad place to go.

Speaking for myself I was happy to stock up on some jeans from Gap, and a couple of cashmere jumpers from M&S. I bought my usual ‘Premium Skinny Cut’ jeans at Gap for about half of what I’d have had to fork out on the High Street, and who could complain about M&S cashmere jumpers for £29.99? Not a lot wrong with that, if you ask me.

I’m a bit of a cookshop junkie, and was happy to find four places selling cooking stuff: Denby, Villeroy and Boch, Procook and Viners. I’d been looking for some traditional icecream sundae dishes, which I scored in Viners for the princely sum of £1.40 a pop. What do you think of this little ensemble?

As you can see one of them was quickly pressed into service for an end-of-the-school-day jelly treat. Someone in our house is very keen on jelly.

Nike, Adidas and Asics all have shops there for your jogging gear. As do Trespass and Tog24 for walking/ outdoor wear.

As with most of these retail villages there are no interesting, independent stores in the line-up.  I was, however, taken aback to see a Bj√∂rn Borg outlet (do you remember him of hippy hair and tennis fame?). Anyway, it seems that he is now busy designing very brightly coloured (and I do mean ‘very’) underwear for both ladies and gents – or maybe they just sell his very brightly coloured range at the outlet, and he’s got some tasteful whites and pastels on sale elsewhere. 

There’s lots of building work going on out front at the complex, and the place has a just-moved-in vibe. A window cleaner, brandishing his squeegee mop and bucket, asked me how he could get to the first floor to clean the windows. I must have looked like I knew where I was going.

There are still loads of empty units. Several looked as though they were being prepared for new tenants, so I imagine that the line up of brands is set to grow.

In addition there are stacks of places to eat with a cinema complex somewhere on the upper floor that I didn’t try and visit. If you come on a Saturday morning you can leave your little ones at the football academy (open between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m) and have a peaceful, child-free shop, which seems like a good plan.

Parking (head for the Red Car Park, which is closest to the shops) was easy and freely available – but at a price that seemed a bit steep to me. My little jamboree ran into a third hour for which I had to pay £5.50. I don’t want to sound like a tightwad, but that seemed a bit steep for where I was. Bear in mind that Ikea is at the end of the road, where the parking is free, and there’s a huge Tesco Extra not far away, where they also have free parking. All things told I felt the fee for the car park was a bit more Westfield than Wembley Outlet, and on match days the rate goes up even higher.

So what’s the verdict? Not a bad place to snoop around for a bargain, with the prospect of more and better to come.

Bonny x

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