Croydon Village Outlet finally up and running after chaotic first opening event


Overwhelming demand from shoppers led the store to close early.


By Liane Lau

Croydon Village Outlet’s second opening returned with a sense of déjà vu as reality star Harry Derbridge came back to re-open the North End store on Saturday.

Following Thursday’s disastrous opening event, where cash tills crashed and escalators failed to transport the masses, shoppers were turfed out no more than 90 minutes after opening.

The store, which drew shoppers in with claims it stocks designer brands such as Gucci, Armani and Ted Baker with discounts of up to 75 per cent, failed to open the following day on Friday.

Former The Only Way Is Essex star Harry Derbridge returned to cut the ribbon and greet delighted fans wanting to catch a glimpse of his clothing and jewellery concession, Harry’s World.

Harry said: “I’m really excited to be opening a store here, it was absolutely mad on Thursday.”

He added that his ideal location for another shop would be in Liverpool, because ‘they’re like Essex people’.

Roller girls and stilt walkers had a dominant presence throughout the day as the Chief Executive, Marco Cash, wanted to ‘create a bit of theatre’.

He said in time, the store would be in the same ranks of ‘Harrods’.

“We’re the first designer outlet of its kind to be located in a town centre,” said Mr Cash.

Most surprisingly, he brought a touch of Notting Hill Carnival to Croydon, complete with scantily-clad samba dancers and drummers, who paraded through the store to bemused customers.

A shopper, Sharon Mills, 37, explained that she saw a family carry a pram full of shopping down a broken-down escalator:

“The shop isn’t ready but I’ve found a few good things,” she said.

While the bottom and first floor traditionally houses beauty and ladies’ clothing, the second floor was a mecca for savvy shoppers.

Red and white £5 sale signs, usually seen in market stalls, decorated never-ending rails of clothing from little-known brands.

Forgetting the attraction of brand names, the main attraction lies in the Greenhill food hall, almost hidden in the basement.

Stepping away from the image of a dimly-lit food court commonly found in shopping centres, customers can sample food from around the world in less than 80 paces.

Ranging from artisan bread to sushi, the food is produced locally or in-store.

Rik Kroesen, 35, has set up his first Le Perron bakery in the food hall of the outlet. Focussing on being 100% organic, breads and pastries are baked fresh in-store in the open kitchen.

As baker’s son from Holland, Mr Kroesen has achieved both his and his father’s vision of bringing artisan bread from mere food cart to shop, all in the space of three weeks.

Mr Kroesen said: “I grew up with food but also have experience in business – I can combine the two.

“If all goes well I hope to bring a street-cart outside to sell bread so I can be mobile.”

On the other side of the food hall is soon-to-be restaurateur Nitin Griffiths, 29, owner of an Indian fusion stall.

“The best thing about this place is that it’s unique. There are no high-street brands here,” he said.

In addition to the stall, he is due to open the only restaurant of the outlet, Basement Brasserie, in the following month.

Overlooking the untouched Allders interior and faulty escalators, the unfinished store has big shoes to fill, as Britain’s third largest department store.

It is estimated that 500 new jobs have been created, which will undoubtedly be welcomed with open arms.

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