Fashion House Group

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Fashion House Group's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Fashion House Group is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

Fashion House Moscow
Founded in 1994 by Marc Lebbe and Patrick Van Den Bossche,
Fashion House Group is a property business with “a different
vision on real estate”. Today, it has developments in Russia,
Romania and Poland, and those words have never been more
important. Real estate in Central and Eastern Europe, as it is
anywhere in the world, is going through huge change, not
only because of the challenges of online retailers, but also as a
result of the changing consumer habits of millennials. Managing
Director Brendon O’Reilly explains how they are developing
understanding and reacting to thesechanges.
Our main activities are land acquisition, property development and property and
asset management. The short and very quick version of our business, is that we buy
land and then sign lots of contracts which converts the land into an object that has a
good quality of cash flow. We try wherever possible to, build and manage above and
beyond the local standards and always to an institutional quality. In the case of Russia,
where property development is in its infant years, both local tenants and international
brands recognise our skills and strategic approach towards understanding our
customers and delivering exactly what they want, when they want it.
Passionate about our staff
Our fundamental success is investing in people who are very talented, passionate
and full of positive attitude. I cannot imagine doing anything that I was not
passionate about and I don’t expect any of my staff to do this either. When we
have found these people across UK, Belgium, Russia, Poland and Romania, we
»Managing Director:
»Founded in 1994
»Based in Glasgow
»Services: Working in
commercial and residential
real estate, as well as offering
asset management solutions
»No. of employees: 140
Fashion House Group
Highlighting best practice
empower them and take care of them.
People are our greatest asset and we
find that this recipe breeds not only
hard work but also real “buy in” to
our philosophies and projects. This in
turn adds value to our asset portfolio
through management of both the
development process and the asset
management functions after opening.
People don’t care how much you have
or how much you know, they just care
how much you care.
We have looked at many incentives,
such as KPIs or share-orientated
motivational systems, and in certain
transactional areas of our business we
have these still to some degree. In the
main, however, we concluded that
taking care of our staff, is the best
motivation you can give.
Varied skillset
Although we are multi asset class
developers, my main activity is the
development and asset management
of outlet centres, the primary function
of which is to liquidate previous
collections which are leftovers
from the high street. It is a widely
misunderstood asset class, in which
we often find ourselves getting back
to basics and educating both tenants
and consumers on exactly what an
outlet centre is. Our key stakeholders,
mainly Belgian family businesses,
are well aware of the asset class
and the specifics of success in their
development, and support us across
many CEE regions in terms of equity
capital to develop, they are brave
pioneers, and like many who have the
same vision, they have done very well
over the years in this activity.
Although our activities are exclusively
undertaken abroad, we see and have a
positive effect on the same issues faced
in the UK, but deliver in a different
location. Our outlet centres allow our
tenants to dispose of surplus inventory,
generate cash to invest in things that
the consumer in the high street wants
to buy, and enables them to invest in
new and high street retail concepts.
Similarly in housebuilding, in Romania
we are building 4,000 new units in the
southeast of Bucharest, which like the
UK is massively under supplied with
new homes. We are in partnership
with one of our investor families, who
have developed successful modular
housebuilding systems which delivers
both speed and build quality. When
using a dependable labour pool off-
site, when delivered to site, this can
be set up and managed to deliver one
home per day on-site, with limited
labour on the actual place of delivery
for new residential developments.
We were very fortunate that our
original vision on real estate was also
both pioneering, in terms of locations
and asset class but also understood that
the consumer experience within all of
our assets, can have added value both
through great brands and stores, but
also through creating an outstanding
place for people to spend time, in
Russia our assets are so exceptional
inside, with streets scenes representing
Paris, London and Milan, newly married
couples travel long distances to have
their wedding pictures taken inside
Fashion House Moscow.
Funders of the Fashion
House Group
People don’t
care how
much you
have or how
much you
know, they
just care how
much you
Online competition
The media has recently focused on the
impact of online sales upon high street
shops, with 20.4 per cent of all shopping
currently done online. Online shopping
is becoming more convenient and the
experience is becoming faster and better,
but the real impact is not as pronounced
as the numbers indicate. This statistic
is a smokescreen, hiding the additional
transactional costs, which include returns
and handling costs. Let’s not forget that
we always had catalogue sales, which
have now been included into the online
pot. How do you calculate the online
sales that are generated after a visit
to a store to look and feel and better
investigate the product? Finally what
about online sales generated in real
store, because the store is out of stock
of the item when you are in store?
Online sales are an extension of offline
activity, and a new channel for retailers
The issue of competition, however, is not
that online has taken over retail sales,
it is more about retailers and brands
not keeping up with this new market
channel. They see a threat rather than
an opportunity. There are clear winners
and sadly lots of losers in this new world.
Consumers will never stop shopping
in our high streets, new concepts new
experiences and new retailers will take
over the space of dinosaur retailers
who rely on the loyalty of consumers
to come back week after week to the
same old products in the same old tired
stores, rather than delivering new and
outstanding experiences and products
for them buy. In some instances, which
amaze me, I can see UK retailers who
expect the consumer to work harder to
buy in their stores, than they do online.
Our business is all conducted outside of
the UK, but our key senior management
staff are award winning and all UK
based and we are a niche market asset
management team who manage local
teams in Russia, Poland and Romania.
Our motto is: no one knows the outlet
business, better than we do. Although
we have no UK activity, all of our
costs are in GBP, however, our income
is all derived in Euro, which can be
also associated with the Ruble and
the Romanian Lei. As a management
team we are developing building and
managing assets in multiple currencies,
in multiple countries, which makes for
an interesting working life. As my father
always said, if you can find a career that
you love, then you will never work a
day in your life, and I can say that I feel
that I truly have found such a career.
In some
instances, which
amaze me, I can
see UK retailers
who expect the
consumer to
work harder to
buy in their
stores, than they
do online
Keneser – the newest
project in Warsaw,

This article was sponsored by Fashion House Group. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister