REAL ESTATE

Forever 21 opens NYC flagship

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Forever 21 on Friday opened one of its largest stores to date: a 91,257-sq.-ft. flagship in the heart of Manhattan’s Times Square. First-year sales projection for the location, which will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., is $100 million-plus, according to various reports.

The four-level location, which boasts some 150 dressing rooms, houses Forever 21’s various brands (for women, men and children) in shop-in-store styled departments. New York City icons, including an authentic taxi cab, are well represented throughout the massive space, which has a fun, contemporary feel. Among the store’s highlights: a Stud Room, whose walls are covered with 3,000 gold studs (the area features studded-apparel) and the kids’ department, which has a wood tree house.

Click here to see photos of Forever 21 in Times Square.

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REAL ESTATE

Gap details China expansion

BY CSA STAFF

San Francisco Gap plans to open two namesake stores in Beijing and two in Shanghai and start selling its merchandise online in China later this year, the company said Wednesday.

Gap will own and operate its four new stores, including a shop on the premier Nanjing West Road in Shanghai; a store on Mid Huaihai Road, another top shopping street in Shanghai; a two-story store on Beijing’s Wanfujing Street and a store in a Beijing regional mall called Chaobei Joy City.

John Ermatinger, president of Gap’s Asia Pacific Region, said Gap will tweak its sizes and product mix, including smaller sizes and using brighter colors to appeal to locals.

Ermatinger told The Associated Press that the retailer views its expansion into China as a “major cornerstone” for its international growth.

The move was unrelated to China’s announcement this week that it would let its currency, the yuan, appreciate against the U.S. dollar, Ermatinger said. That change will make prices of U.S. goods more competitive in China.

Ermatinger declined to say how many stores Gap will eventually operate in China or to project its revenue in China.

“Our growth will depend on how well Chinese customers will embrace the brand,” he said.

Gap’s entry comes after extensive analysis of Chinese consumers’ buying habits. Ermatinger said Gap team members interviewed consumers and went through their closets.

Gap is counting on China’s massive online community to fuel Web sales. According to Forrester Research, China had 209.1 million Internet users in 2008, or 16% of the population. Forrester expects that number to increase to 377.1 million, or 27% of the population, by 2013.

A distribution center outside Shanghai will serve all four stores and the China Internet business, which Gap will manage with Shanghai Yi Shang Network Information Co. Ltd., an e-commerce company.

To lead its expansion efforts, the company has appointed Redmond Yeung as president, China for Gap, and Lorenzo Moretti, as managing director, China for Gap. Yeung will lead business development and real estate strategy, and Moretti will focus on all store operations, product-to-market activities and infrastructure development. Based in Shanghai, where Gap will also open its corporate China headquarters, they will report to Ermatinger.

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SmartCo to open stores in Denver

BY CSA STAFF

Denver A new warehouse/supermarket hybrid is entering the Denver market, according to a Wednesday report by the Denver Post.

SmartCo just opened a part warehouse grocery and part convetional supermarket on South Parker Road in Arapahoe County on Tuesday, the first of five Denver-area stores, said the chain.

Parent company Smart & Final of City of Commerce, Calif., acquired five metro-Denver sites formerly occupied by Albertsons. In addition to the newly opened store at 1442 S. Parker Road, outlets in Denver, Centennial, Littleton and Longmont will launch in July and August.

Smart & Final has built a reputation in California and other Western states primarily as a warehouse discounter that caters to food-service customers who buy in bulk. SmartCo stores will add a conventional supermarket element with regular-size items, fresh produce, bakeries, meat departments and delis.

“We’re not just a warehouse concept,” said Scott Drew, VP and general manager of SmartCo. “We have a complete line of regular grocery items. (That will) set us apart from the competition.”

Drew said the chain is able to fit bulk and nonbulk items into conventional-size stores by offering slightly fewer brands or styles than typical supermarkets.

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