The 25 people shaping retail’s future are…

BY Marianne Wilson

A 12-year-old CEO is among the 25 individuals named to the National Retail Foundation’s 2017 List of People Shaping Retail’s Future.

Mikaila Ulmer, founder and CEO of Me & The Bees Lemonade, is the youngest of the list’s honorees, all of whom will be recognized at the NRF Foundation Gala on January 15 during the NRF Big Show in New York City.

“Retail is driven by millions of talented and passionate individuals who are constantly changing the industry, and The List 2017 captures the very best of people making an impact,” NRF Foundation executive director Ellen Davis said. “Each in their own way, this year’s honorees are shaping retail’s future and emulate the very best of what retail represents.”

In addition to celebrating all the individuals on The List at the Gala, NRF will also recognize Mark Parker, chairman, president and CEO of Nike, as “The Visionary,” a new honor for an inspiring leader with a long record of spearheading change in the industry.

Here is NRF’s 2017 List of People Shaping Retail’s Future:


Brad Bogolea – Co-Founder and CEO, Simbe Robotics

Anthony Bruce – Co-Founder and CEO, Applied Predictive Technologies

Christine Hunsicker – Founder and CEO, Gwynnie Bee

Dominik Richter – Founder & CEO, HelloFresh Global

Tristan Walker – Founder and CEO, Walker and Company Brands


Stefanie Botelho – Founder and CEO, Fitzroy Toys

Chieh Huang – Co-founder and CEO, Boxed Wholesale

Michelle Lam – Co-founder and CEO, True&Co.

Kavita Shukla – Inventor and founder, FreshPaper

Mikaila Ulmer – Founder and CEO, Me & the Bees Lemonade


James Brett – President, West Elm

Emily Avedikian – Founder and director, Keeps Boutique at The Gatehouse

Roslyn S. Jaffe – Co-founder, secretary & director emeritus, Ascena Retail Group

Drew Ann Long – Inventor, Caroline’s Cart

Monika Wiela – CEO and founder, Give Back Box

Power Players:

Scott Dahnke – Global Co-CEO, L Catterton

Kevin Hofmann – President, online and chief marketing officer, The Home Depot

Steven Lowy – Co-CEO, Westfield Corporation

Toni M. Miller – Senior executive, VP, chief administration officer and CFO, Boscov’s Department Store

Marisa Thalberg – chief marketing officer, Taco Bell Corp.


Lisa Clyde – Global head of consumer & retail investment banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Jason Goldberg – SVP, content & commerce, SapientRazorfish

David Lawenda – VP, global marketing dolutions – US, Facebook

Wendy Liebmann – Founder, CEO and chief shopper, WSL Strategic Retail

Phil Wahba – Senior writer, Fortune


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Finding a New Outlet

BY Al Urbanski

In 2014, August Partners published a study that compared the national visit share of various retail formats with their percentage of gross leasable area. A fascinating dichotomy emerged. On the one end of the bar graph were malls, accounting for 18% of GLA, but only 14% of traffic. On the other were outlets with just 1% of GLA, but 9% of shoppers. It’s an invalid comparison to make because there are some 1,200 malls in the United States and just over 200 outlet centers. But if malls held the shopper attraction power that outlets did, they’d claim 162% of consumer traffic!

That, perhaps, explains why outlet retailing is in the midst of an expansion phase. Some 44 new outlet centers are in the planning stages for openings over the next three years in the U.S. and Canada, according to CBRE. Even if 10 of those projects don’t get built, that’s a pace of close to one new outlet center a month. Contrast that to the fact that few new malls have been topped off in the past seven years and it spells boom times for outlets.

“When you’ve got about 215 outlet centers spread around the U.S. and 12 new ones open, that’s significant growth,” said David Hinkle of The Outlet Resource Group, who spent most of his 17 years in retail opening National Book Warehouses in most of those centers. “It’s the only form of brick-and-mortar retail keeping pace with e-commerce.”

Outlet centers are becoming a go-to option for more consumers in more places than ever before, especially millennials. According to CBRE’s retail assets director Mark Hunter, millennials spend an average of $100 per outlet visit and they make an average of three visits a month. TORG research found that outlets claim 26% of annual apparel spend to 46% for all other brick-and-mortar retail.

New England Development only got into the outlet business in 2014 when it bought the Palm Beach Mall, tore it down, and put outlets and a power center in its place. Since then, the company has co-developed a new outlet center with Simon in Maryland, opened one in Little Rock and is busy building new centers in Des Moines and Detroit.

“There are a lot of smaller metros with affluent communities that punch above their weight and deserve outlet centers,” said Michael Barelli, a VP at the company. “There are nearly a million people in the Des Moines metro area, there are high disposable incomes there, and the nearest outlet center was 80 miles away. Now we’re making outlets an everyday option for shoppers there.”

City-dwelling millennials are pumping new blood and cash into outlet centers, and longtime players in the outlet business are beckoning to them. As the exclusive retail sponsor of last summer’s Demi Lovato-Nick Jonas “Future Now” tour, Simon Premium Outlets negotiated tour stops near its centers and staged meet-and-greets with the pop stars at places like Leesburg, Va., and Edinburgh, Ind.

Millennial oases such as Shake Shack and Le Pain Quotidien are making their debuts at Simon properties, and has adopted social media as a prime marketing channel.

“Our outlets are outside of the metro areas, so it can be a little hard to get them into the car,” said Stephen Yalof, CEO of Simon Premium Outlets. “We came up with ways to communicate with them that are cutting-edge.”

A study conducted earlier this year by Macerich found that more than half of the tourists visiting its Fashion Outlets of Chicago fell into the 18-to-36 age group. The trend has attracted a new breed of retailer.

“A great example is Vineyard Vines, a decidedly younger-skewing brand that just opened this fall at Fashion Outlets of Chicago,” said Macerich senior VP Jamie Bourbeau. “Luxury retailers know they can build brand loyalty and create lifelong affinity with millennials.”

Outlets are gateways to a new consumer base for luxury retailers, maintains Hinkle: “Some of these brands are on Fifth Avenue and Rodeo Drive, and younger shoppers will go into them for the first time at outlet centers because their mind-sets are different there.”

Outlets, which have long thrived in tourist towns or off interstates between two large cities, are creeping closer to those high-street locales. Howard Hughes Corp. brought the good times rolling back to the New Orleans’ Riverwalk by converting it to an outlet center. Wilmorite is doing a mall-to-outlet conversion in Rochester, N.Y., and Macerich is expanding its urban outlets business with two new Fashion Outlets under construction in Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Macerich’s citified centers will occupy sizeable footprints. Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia — a co-development with PREIT — will hunker down in Center City with a 730,000-sq.-ft. presence.

“This is steps away from the convention center and other top-drawing tourist attractions like Reading Terminal Market and Independence Hall,” Bourbeau said. “It’s also set right above a major transit hub with great traffic among suburban bus and train commuters.”

Wilmorite hopes to draw shoppers from a 60-mile radius to its Marketplace Outlets — formerly the Marketplace Mall — with a square footage in excess of 1 million. More retailers will be needed to fill spaces like that, too, and indeed, new brands are being attracted to value retail.

“You’re going to see more and more full-price retailers that don’t have outlet divisions decide to start them, and that’s going to be a trend for the foreseeable future,” Hunter said.

“Outlet shoppers are mission-focused on great finds and wonderful deals,” Bourbeau said. “We have names like Gucci, Prada and Karl Lagerfeld co-existing beautifully with segment leaders like Nordstrom Rack.”

Outlet retail emerged from the Great Recession stronger than any other shopping center format, Hinkle believes, because people emerged from it watching their money more closely, but still enamored of high-end brands.

“In many markets around the country,” he posited, “the outlet store is better suited for the marketplace than the full-price store.”

Department store closings, meanwhile, widen the void that outlets can fill.

“The department stores had so much control over the distribution channel and didn’t want that competition in their trade areas,” Hunter said. “But now, the whole dynamic of the distribution channel has changed.”

And so has the evolving retail landscape, where one new outlet center is rising every month.


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Expanding North


DLC Management Corp.’s grocery-anchored shopping centers can be found in places such as Dallas; Milwaukee; Columbus, Ohio; and Birmingham, Ala.; but the company has a special stake in the Northeast. In October, DLC closed the biggest deal in its history, acquiring a passel of 16 centers, all but one of them in New York state. Chain Store Age Real Estate Editor Al Urbanski talked with DLC CEO Adam Ifshin and asked him what retailers need to know about the Northeast market. While Ifshin qualified that Boston was as different from Buffalo as Philadelphia was from New York, he had several valuable insights to share about the nation’s most densely populated region.

First, the big news. Tell us about your 16-center acquisition.

We partnered with DRA Advisors on this acquisition to build a core-plus portfolio. The acquisition represents about 17% growth for us. The seller wanted to exit its New York state holdings, and we took a long time looking at the assets. We had to get comfortable with the markets. We’ll be doing lots of common area upgrades.

It’s a long-term play?

We don’t buy value-added properties and babysit them. We come to them with a business plan. We ask ourselves, “How do we add value?”

Define “core-plus” properties for us.

Core real estate is, for example, an H-E-B center in Dallas that’s 90% occupied and is bought and sold by life insurance companies and pension funds. Core-plus is a stable center, but is maybe anchored by the No. 2 grocer in the market. It’s 85% occupied and in Lexington, Ky., or Birmingham, Ala.

Or Cheektowaga, N.Y.?

Or a very strong asset in Cheektowaga, yes.

So is there any difference in your tenant formula in the Northeast?

In large areas of the Northeast, there has not been a lot of new construction for a long time, and adept redevelopers are well-positioned to assist retailers grow with their chain’s needs. If you leave the major metros, the focus is on two kinds of retailers: The ones that are highly e-commerce resistant and the ones that are value-oriented. It’s the bread-and-butter, value-oriented retail that women with kids need to access on a regular basis.

What about dining and entertainment brands?

We’re seeing intense QSR demand, particularly when you’re close to a college town. We see the old-line players being out-competed by the Chipotles and the Starbucks of the world. We’ve picked up five Paneras and we’re looking to add more in this space.

What about mixed-use centers in the Northeast, where you often see a lot of new food concepts getting a shot?

It’s the place where mixed-use started. If you go to Newton, Mass., or Princeton, N.J., you have apartments over stores. There has been some ground-up construction in that area, too. Blue Back Square in West Hartford, Conn., comes to mind. Also you have a lot of college towns. A lot of success stories for smaller retail outside of city centers in New England and upstate New York revolve around education.

What’s the region been like for traditional malls?

Basically, with malls in the Northeast, it’s the haves and the have-nots. Every enclosed mall in the state of Vermont is in trouble, but the open-air retail’s fine. But the malls that are the best — Short Hills, Roosevelt Field, The Westchester — are doing better than ever.

What’s your advice for new-concept retailers and dining chains looking to succeed in the Northeast?

We are concerned by concepts that are very faddish and aren’t adding a value proposition for the consumer. Some are trying to extend the Chipotle model to Korean and Thai and it will be interesting to see who’s got the money and the expertise and the discipline to get it done. A lot of successful restaurants try to franchise too soon. What happens if you start expanding really fast and you lack the infrastructure and the financing to do it? People forget McDonald’s gave Chipotle the structure that enabled them to roll out.

What new retail categories do you see making inroads in centers in the Northeast?

We had a big center in Chicago, a de-malled mall. It was a great location, both local and commuter traffic. We’re adding a daycare center and its going to be very popular. Retailers love it because moms were in there every day. In Vernon, outside of Hartford, we had an empty box next to a Price Chopper and a Staples. We added a 30,000-sq.-ft. satellite of Hartford Hospital.

You’ve been successful in this business for going on three decades. What’s DLC’s core value?

We look at people first, property second. We want to maximize sales and profitability for everybody involved—for our retailers and for DLC. We have teammates here, not employees, and a win/win for us is maximizing value for the retailers and the physical real estate.


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