Our evening with Scott Malkin, founder of Value Retail

Scott Malkin

On Tuesday October 4, Paul Gunter, Daniel Stram and I were privileged enough to get a glimpse into the incredible mind of Scott Malkin, founder of Value Retail and the creator of Bicester Village and Rodeo Drive, the famous shopping centre in Los Angeles.

Malkin hails from a privileged background, as his father owned much of the Empire State building in New York and he first had an idea for a new “shopping zone” when he was fresh out of Harvard.

Rodeo Drive was a huge success as it was the first ever shopping Mecca designed for women who preferred the finer things in life (this was no “discount” zone – think Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman). He helped set this up with some investors, which he knew from school, and they were incredibly lucky to sell it just before the markets crashed at the end of the late 80’s.

The concept for Bicester Village grew out of Rodeo drive, albeit a completely different target market, and was set up in 1995. Initially none of the eponymous designers that now display their wares there were keen to sign up to this relatively new concept of a “discount store” – though Scott actually prefers the term “value for money” to discount. However the numbers spoke for themselves as the Village started drawing immense crowds with expendable income, and became a destination for foreign tourists. Such a “concept Village” has been rolled out to countries including France, Spain, Germany and now even China.

Malkin appreciates the role technology plays in shopping, especially the success of omnichannel retail for some chains on the high street, as well as designers. He has noticed that a lot of retailers who exclusively sold on the web before now also desire a “bricks and mortar” store. An example of this is Amazon, which is now opening bookstores in the US.

Although some of Value Retail’s success is down to a strong digital presence (albeit without a transactional website), the focus for the future continues to be anchored on a physical shopping space, which Malkin describes as “a safe place for designers to sell their brand to valued customers.” Although Malkin admitted he comes from a privileged background, it was clear to all those in attendance that he has an incredible work ethic, is very down to earth and is a big family man.

You can view the talk here:

 

We saw Scott Malkin talk as part of the Prudential Series, held at the fantastic China Exchange. This venue, on London’s Gerrard Street, is the location for our event on October 19 which dissects how growing retailers can use technology to compete with the likes of Amazon.

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