VIA Outlets, Europe’s fastest-growing owner-operator of premium fashion outlet destinations, has partnered with testing and certification expert Bureau Veritas to create a ‘Safer Shopping’ certificate, to showcase that its shopping centres are Covid-19 safe.
The ‘Safer Shopping’ certificate, created especially for VIA Outlets, has now been granted to every centre in VIA Outlets’ 11-strong portfolio, following an audit of its offices and public spaces by Bureau Veritas.
Each of the 11 outlets underwent an individual audit, explained VIA Outlets, and met a “robust criteria” set out by Bureau Veritas, which included assessing corporate-level and management knowledge about Covid-19 and its risks, various types of employee and guest protection including access to proper PPE and equipment, measures for physical distancing, enhanced cleaning of the centres as well as reinforced hygiene advice and sanitary facilities for guests.
Otto Ambagtsheer, chief executive officer, said in a statement: “Having closely followed the advice of health authorities and governments throughout the coronavirus pandemic, working with a third-party certification firm like Bureau Veritas to establish a standard for our health and safety practices felt like the natural next step.
“Our hope is that this certification will further reinforce the message to our guests that we have taken every step to ensure the safest possible shopping experience. The health and wellbeing of our guests, staff and brand partners is always our highest priority.”
VIA Outlets aims to offer shopper confidence following Covid-19 with ‘Safer Shopping’ certification
Karolina Lachi-Kolarova, certification director for Bureau Veritas, added: “This is the latest demonstration of how our ‘Restart Your Business’ solution is supporting organisations in navigating a safe return to work following the Covid-19 shutdowns.
“Working in partnership with the team from VIA Outlets, we have independently assessed the management procedures and effective implementation at site level, providing assurance to staff, customers and other stakeholders. With individual certificates of assurance for each site and full traceability thanks to our new online platform, VIA Outlets staff, customers and stakeholders can have increased confidence in the safety and compliance of its post-Covid-19 operations.”
VIA Outlets, which reopened the majority of its centres from the end of April, with the final centre reopening mid-June, states that it will continue to “monitor changing governmental guidelines” and adapt accordingly to ensure a continued Safer Shopping environment.
To ensure shopper and staff safety, VIA Outlets has introduced a number of protocols including encourage social distancing, reinforced hygiene and sanitary advice for guests, the addition of sanitising stations throughout the centres and inside stores, systems for crowd and queue management and increased frequency of cleaning of public areas.
Since reopening, VIA Outlets has reported that brand sales and footfall figures are “encouraging” and that in most centres, sales per visitor (SPV) increased considerably versus the same period last year. For instance, May SPV on portfolio level was 25.1 percent higher than last year. With VIA Outlets suggesting that there has been an increased demand for shopping after an extended period of not being able to visit physical stores.
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