Ask Five: Steve Burge, Clarks Village

In this interview, we speak to Steve Burge, Marketing Manager at the UK’s first ever retail shopping outlet – Clarks Village.

1. Can you talk us through the Christmas plans at Clarks Village this year?

It all kicks off on Saturday 4 November, with an explosive firework display in the Village, just after 7pm. This will also be the first day of our Saturday late night shopping (until 7pm) and our stores will have some special festive offers from this date. Once the 20 minute display is over, we’ll be officially turning our Christmas lights on, illuminating the village with festive lights and decorations around the Village. We have some other exciting events and plans in the pipeline, but you’ll have to watch this space for more information… Though we can promise lots of music, festivities, good food and performances. Santa might even pay a visit or two!

2. How do you plan for such large-scale, public events?

Meticulously! Our events take a lot of detailed planning and preparation, and we spend time reviewing what has worked well – and not so well – so that we can learn from these, and make each event better than it was before. We have a great Management Team at Clarks Village, and after each event we do some very detailed analysis to review the event, look at the footfall and sales from each activity, and see how we can do better next time. This, with a mix of creative thinking, customer feedback and working with some fantastic suppliers, is a very powerful recipe for success.

3. How do you promote these events to ensure maximum return on investment?

We do a mix of “above the line advertising”, including TV, radio and out of home, plus print, digital, social media promotion, and in-centre advertising – for example, the big billboards and posters you see across the Village. This all goes together to ensure we’re targeting all of our potential customers, as well as those who are already shopping with us. We also ensure our blog and website are regularly updated with lots of exciting news and information of our forthcoming events, plus post-event images and feedback, to ensure they know how successful it was!

4. Why does hosting live events at Clarks Village still work?

Clarks Village is located in the heart of Somerset, and as a responsible employer, we’re keen to ensure we’re supporting the whole community and providing interesting and varied content for not only the local public, but those who travel from further afield to Clarks Village. Locally around Street, not many other businesses or local groups put on such large-scale, free, events – such as firework displays – so it’s important to us as a business to ensure we provide these events, free of charge, to support and promote the area!

5. Apart from Christmas, what are the next best seasons for Clarks Village, and why?

That’s a difficult one, as we have many! But just after Christmas is our Winter Sale, which kicks off on Boxing Day and runs until the end of January. This is a key time for us at Clarks Village and is always well attended, with lots of happy shoppers looking to spend their Christmas money and grab a bargain (or five)! After this, Easter, Summer and Back to School are key seasons for our outlets, as we encourage families and friends to visit Clarks Village, finding everything they could possibly need for the new academic year. We also ensure there’s lots going on throughout the Summer, including free activities, workshops and great offers at our stores – this Summer we hosted our first Summer of Culture art installation, which was a great hit for our shoppers!