STORE SPACES

Home decor chain sees big opportunity in Texas

BY By Marianne Wilson

At Home Group continues to expand its store network in the Lone Star state.

The fast-growing retailer announced the grand openings of three locations in the greater Houston area, including a newly redeveloped store in Katy, Texas, that opens on July 19. Construction is underway on stores in Pearland and Richmond, Texas, that are slated to open in the fall. The Katy location is one of seven At Home stores in the greater Houston area, and one of 26 in Texas.

"With the opening of these three locations in the greater Houston area, we are executing on the tremendous opportunity that we see in this market," said At Home chairman and CEO Lee Bird. "As a brand that was born in Texas, At Home is proud to continue this strategic expansion not only in Houston but across the state."

At Home is opening more than 25 stores year. The company, which went public in August 2016, has achieved a 20% top-line compound annual growth rate over the past four fiscal years.

The 135,000-sq.-ft. Katy store offers over 50,000 home décor items from furniture, mirrors, rugs, art and housewares to tabletop, patio and seasonal items, including more than 100 different artificial Christmas tree varieties.

"The site of our new Katy store is rich in history as one of the original locations for At Home's precursor Garden Ridge, and it is the first completely rebuilt At Home store," said At Home store drector Robert Cortino.

At Home is headquartered in Plano, Texas, and currently operates 135 stores in 33 states

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STORE SPACES

Toys ‘R’ Us to make Times Square return — for a limited engagement

BY Marianne Wilson

After a nearly two-year absence, Toys "R" Us is returning to Times Square — but not on a permanent basis.

Citing customer demand, the retailer said it will open a temporary 35,000-sq.-ft. store at the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway, just two blocks from the chain's massive, 110,000-sq.-ft. flagship that it closed at the end of 2015. Scheduled to open in August, the three-level store will offer a "one-stop toy shopping experience — complete with a dedicated play area — just in time for the holiday season."

In addition, the store will feature life-size toy displays and such interactive elements as an animatronic dinosaur (a scaled-down version of the one in its former Times Square flagship). It also will give Toys "R" Us a central location for New Yorkers who want to take advantage of the chain's buy online, pick-up in store service.

"The Times Square holiday shop reunites our brand with an iconic New York destination which we are thrilled about," said Dave Brandon, chairman & CEO, Toys "R" Us, Inc. "More importantly, the store offers customers a host of products tailored to the needs of city dwellers and visitors – all in interest of bringing play to kids and families around the world!"

The first level of the store will feature in-store shops, including Movie HQ (products from this fall's biggest blockbusters), Hot and New (the hottest holiday toys), Star Wars, and Marvel, along with New York City memorabilia. Additionally, it will house a select assortment of electronic and entertainment items.

The second level will include dedicated Lego and Nerf shops, and a full assortment of traditional toys across a range of categories. It will also be home to a dedicated play space where kids will be able to play with products out-of-the-box and experience toy demos.

The lower level will include Hot Wheels items, and action figures, as well as city-friendly modes of transportation such as bikes and scooters.

Toys "R" Us' said its buy online, pick up in store service will be available at the Times Square location, providing Manhattan customers with an easy way to pick up thousands of items in under an hour. Layaway service will also be available.

The retailer did not say how long its temporary store would remain open. Landlord representation was provided by Brittany H. Bragg of Crown Retail Services, and Peter Ripka of Ripco Real Estate was the broker representation for Crown Retail Services.

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Fitch names new creative director in North America

BY Marianne Wilson

Global retail and brand consultancy Fitch has appointed Andy Barlow creative director.

Barlow will relocate from the U.K. to lead multi-disciplinary creative teams, and work closely with the leadership across North America to grow and broaden the region’s offer. With over 25 years of design experience, agency and client side, Barlow has worked with Tesco, Harrods, and Amazon among others.

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