The world of the Bicester Collection

We met Desirée Bollier, co-founder of The Bicester Collection, for a cup of tea in La Roca Village, near Barcelona, to find out how this global brand has built a retail and property empire that is proving very popular at the moment.

IRMA: can you explain what inspired you to set up The Bicester Collection and how the unique mix of property and outlet retail came about?
DESIREE BOLLIER: The founder of the company and my business partner is Scott Malkin. Scott has a rich background in New York property. In the early stages of starting The Bicester Collection, Scott realized that we couldn’t just focus on real estate to really stand out. Instead, we needed to create a harmonious marriage between real estate and retail.

The Bicester Collection Desiree Bollier with Jasmin Khezri of IRMASWORLD

IRMA: The Bicester Collection has succeeded in creating a seamless integration between luxury retail and a compelling physical environment. What strategies have been employed to create such a distinctive and engaging shopping experience?
DESIREE BOLLIER: We follow a strategic approach that harmonizes four pillars: Real Estate, Retail, Hospitality and Experience Design. Rather than allowing one aspect to dominate, these pillars work in harmony to deliver a distinctive shopping experience.

In terms of real estate, each village is a unique entity with its own architectural style and brand mix.

The concept of “comprehensive hospitality” plays a crucial role. This includes dedicated hosts and hostesses, hands-free shopping services and meticulous standards of cleanliness. The basic idea is to give guests the feeling that they are in the home of a very eccentric couple who look after them with the utmost care and attention to detail. The food is also an essential part of the experience.
The aim is to offer guests a holistic and authentic experience where everything, from the surroundings to the food, is original and beautiful.

The Apartment at La Roca Village, Barcelona

IRMA: Sustainability and ethical considerations have become increasingly important in the business world. How does The Bicester Collection integrate these values into its activities and developments?
DESIREE BOLLIER: The Bicester Collection works with a network of 10 charities that work together to empower women and children as part of its DO GOOD programme. This includes five charities dedicated to supporting children and young people and giving them the best chance to fulfil their potential.

The Bicester Collection Desiree Bollier with Jasmin Khezri of IRMASWORLD

IRMA: the digital age has changed consumer behaviour and retail trends. How is The Bicester Collection utilising technology to enhance customer interaction and remain relevant in this changing landscape?
DESIREE BOLLIER: Today’s guests are digitally savvy and well informed, often knowing more about products than the companies themselves. The Bicester Collection offers an app that connects customers with shops and allows them to get advice from sales staff via Facetime. However, purchases must be made in-store as we do not participate in e-commerce.

The Bicester Collection enhances the shopping experience through virtual shopping. Customers can learn about products through the brand, THE APARTMENT or personal shoppers and take virtual tours to get help with product selection from a personal shopper.

The Apartment at La Roca Village, Barcelona

IRMA: Expansion and growth are often the most important goals for companies. What are your future plans for The Bicester Collection? Are there any upcoming projects or developments that you are particularly excited about?
DESIREE BOLLIER: Aside from our Villages, we have recently opened two hotels in San Diego, Mission Pacific and Seabird. These hotels are strategically located right on the beach and are the last approved location of their kind. Our collaboration with Hyatt emphasizes the boutique hotel approach, offering four-star accommodation with five-star service.

The Bicester Collection Desiree Bollier at a panel presenting the latest study “Global Retail Tourism: Trends and Insights”, a collaborative effort between the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), The Bicester Collection and Hong Kong Polytechnic University