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Focus on: Real Estate Technology

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Retail has weathered the recessionary climate, but a quick temperature check will tell you that renovations continue to trump new builds even in a recovering economy.

Despite that, retailers are in almost complete agreement that real estate technology is more important now that it was a year or two ago. A new study, sponsored by Chain Store Age and Evoco, a provider of construction project management and real estate lifestyle management software solutions, polled CSA’s retail readership to find out where technology ranks in the retail real estate hierarchy. An overwhelming 70% said that technology is more important now than it was 12 to 24 months ago.

And it doesn’t seem to matter whether the objective is to expand or to remodel. Technology is still important. In fact, of the 63% of respondents who said they will open stores in 2012 — and the 73% who will complete remodeling projects — just a miniscule number said that technology had diminished in importance.

The survey expanded its net to capture the full picture of new growth and renovation plans for the coming months and years.

Forecasts for the next two years suggest that activity will continue to climb. The percentage of polled retailers who said they would not open any stores declines year over year, from 30% in 2012 to 20% in 2013 and 16% in 2014. The percentage of 
retailers opening stores not only increases year over year, but greater increases are seen in the quantity of stores being opened. For instance, only 8% of retailers said they would open 11 to 25 stores this year, but in 2013 and 2014 the number of respondents who planned to open 11 to 25 new stores grew to 11% and 15%, respectively.

On the remodeling front, although activity outpaced store openings in 2012, the respondents said that renovations will begin to slow, with less marked increases over new-store openings in 2013 and, by 2014, the projection is that the number of retailers with remodeling projects — 68% — will be comparable with the 66% who said they would be opening new stores.

“With 70% of retailers who responded to the survey stating they plan to open new stores in 2013, up from 63% opening stores this year, the outlook for growth in the retail industry is clearly trending positive,” said Alice Reimar, president, CEO and co-founder, Evoco, Calgary, Alberta.

The data become even more pertinent when they are analyzed by the retailer’s size as defined by number of stores or by the average square feet in the retailer’s typical store. In general, retailers with the largest portfolios are opening the greatest number of new stores and, unsurprisingly, remodeling more stores.

Retailers with 1,000-plus stores had the highest rate of “greater growth” compared with the last 12 months and, in 2012, plan to open and remodel the most new stores. In fact, 33% of respondents with more than 1,000 stores said they would add more than 100 new stores this year and remodel more than 100 of their existing stores.

Not surprisingly, that same group is also the biggest proponent of real estate technology, as an impressive 92.6% said real estate technology is more important now than in the last year one to two years.

For a full copy of the report, visit chainstoreage.com/evoco-confirmation-page.

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OSU president, electric company head join Limited board

BY CSA STAFF

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Limited Brands has announced the appointments of Michael Morris and Dr. Gordon Gee to its board of directors.

Morris is the chairman of the board of directors of American Electric Power Co., Inc., one of the nation’s largest generators of electricity. From January 2004 until his retirement in November 2011, Morris was also the president and chief executive officer of American Electric Power. In addition, Morris currently serves as a director of The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. and Alcoa Inc. He holds a B.A. and master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University and a J.D. from the Detroit College of Law.

Dr. Gee is president of The Ohio State University. Prior to his service at Ohio State, he led Vanderbilt University, Brown University, The Ohio State University (1990-97), the University of Colorado, and West Virginia University. Active in a number of national professional and service organizations, he also serves on the boards for Bob Evans Inc., the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Inc. and the National 4-H Council. He graduated from the University of Utah with an honors degree in history and earned his J.D. and Ed.D degrees from Columbia University.

"I am excited to welcome Mike and Gordon to our board," said Leslie Wexner, chairman and chief executive officer of Limited Brands. "I’m confident that their substantial experience and thinking will challenge us to continue to get better … something we’re focused on every day. We’re truly fortunate that they are on our team."

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Walmart boosts holiday hiring

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart is getting ready for the increased demand on its stores during the holiday shopping season by offering more hours to its existing associates and hiring more than 50,000 seasonal associates.

"The holidays are a special time of the year for everyone, and we are ready to help customers have a great shopping experience at Walmart—whether they are looking for the perfect gift or are stocking up for a memorable holiday meal," said Gisel Ruiz, EVP and COO Walmart U.S.

"This is our busiest time of the year and we are focused even more on providing excellent service to our shoppers throughout the holiday season. One way we do that is by ensuring our stores are adequately staffed by our associates."

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