The McArthurGlen designer outlet in York turns 25 next month, with festivities to mark this and the upcoming Christmas season.

Looking back at its history and its role today is centre manager Paul Tyler.

Paul took charge there in 2020 after successfully running the East Midlands Designer Centre near Mansfield.

Before that, he was a general manager for Marks and Spencer, helping run their flagship store in Leeds. Proir to that, he managed their stores in Harrogate and Teesside Park, near Middlesborough.


The York designer outlet covers 120,000 sq ft of retail space. It has 120 stores, five coffee shops, plus other food and drink retailers set out over two floors.

Set in 60acres, the site of a former maternity hospital, it has parking for 2,700 cars and is also home to the Fulford Community Orchard.

Paul told the Press: “My role as Centre Manager is first and foremost to ensure all of our guests have a memorable visit and that we surprise and delight them through excellent guest service and by delivering the best-in-class standards for a premium shopping destination.”

This includes creating ‘interesting pause points’ through the mall, such as certain stores or food outlets, as well as driving key promotions, such as Christmas activities or summer events.

York Press: The Winter Wonderland

He continued: “I also work very closely with our Head Office leasing team to ensure we are looking at new brand opportunities to deliver a premium customer experience.”

In the past year, this has seen new brands to the Centre including Puma, Hugo, Clarins, Carvela, Sweaty Betty, and most recently French Connection return to the Centre.

“We’re always on the lookout for ways in which to enhance the brand offer and are constantly evolve our luxury designer brands offering, whilst maintaining a strong mix of retail brands which will not only appeal to local shoppers but also attract those visiting from other cities,” Paul said.

Food and drink also matters, be it a quick coffee or a restaurant meal, and they must complement the designer brands.

It saw premium burger restaurant Five Guys arrive this year, along with Yo Sushi and Café Valieria, plus Slim Chickens, which opened in September.

Altogether, 1,600 work across the outlet, making the destination one of Yorks’ largest employers.

Paul directly employs 16 to help maintain and co-ordinate the entire operation. In turn, they are underpinned by cleaners, security, landscaping and maintenance.

“You wouldn’t realise what a well-oiled machine the Outlet is and the effort that goes into maintaining the highest quality standards for our Centre guests.  One of the things I love about working here is that camaraderie and collaborative approach everyone takes - it can feel like a big family at times.”

York Press: The interior of the centre

Despite retail’s challenges, Paul says trading is ‘strong’ and “at a record high”, with over 4 million visitors a year. The shoppers are local, higher in number than last year and pre-pandemic. Spending per head is up 10%, with sportswear and beauty doing particularly well.

But with people seeking more of an ‘experience’ it means finding events and attractions to add to the top-class shopping.

This summer saw a 9-hole golf course, plus a beach with deck chairs and table tennis.

The ‘peak’ Christmas season will see the iconic Winter Wonderland and ice rink, plus a Christmas Grotto.

Looking ahead, Paul added: “Investing in York Designer outlet is still very much high on our agenda. In 2019 we put forward a planning application which would improve the parking provision, enhance the park and ride and also extend the Centre with some additional retail and hospitality units.

“It’s still very much our intention to do so. We are currently working with the local council and planning teams on a revised proposal which we hope to announce in the coming weeks. It is very exciting so watch this space for further details.”