Rows of Audis, BMWs and Range Rovers filled the car park outside Bicester Village last Wednesday afternoon. Inside, shoppers were waiting to be ushered into Gucci’s glittering emporium, and the lunchtime queues at Pret A Manger were five deep.
Britain’s pre-eminent discount retail destination is still drawing crowds that the average shopping centre landlord would kill for. The only problem? The visitors’ accents bear the stamp of Birmingham and London rather than Beijing.
Only Buckingham Palace is a bigger draw for Chinese tourists than Bicester Village, a twee, faux high street awash with discounted luxury fashion. Yet its owners fear the government is pulling the rug out from beneath them.
American real estate heir Scott Malkin
At the end of the year, the government will abolish the VAT retail export scheme,