DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

Popular British brand to jump the pond

BY Marianne Wilson

Hunter, best known for its signature rain boots, is expanding its fledgling retail footprint.

The iconic British brand will make its North American freestanding retail debut in October, at Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto.

The 2,800 sq. ft. store will be the third standalone location for the brand, whose boots are sold in department stores and specialty shops around the world. It will showcase the brand's weatherproof footwear, outerwear and accessories with the full Hunter Kids collection.

To date, Hunter has opened two stores, one in London and the other in Tokyo. But more outposts are likely. Creative director Alasdhair Willis told Women's Wear Daily that the brand is "planning activity in New York and London, in addition to the Yorkdale store opening, in line with that. Details to be outlined in due course.” Willis also said that the U.S. is Hunter's biggest market.

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News

Chain Store Age names newest members to SPECS ‘Ambassadors Club’

BY Katherine Boccaccio

In 2016, Chain Store Age unveiled its first-ever SPECS Ambassadors Club, created to recognize selected retail executives who have made significant contributions to the industry and to SPECS. Produced by CSA, SPECS is attended by retail and food-service executives who plan, design, build, and maintain stores and restaurants nationwide.

Now in its second year, the SPECS Ambassadors Club members will provide guidance on overall programming for SPECS/2018, as well as serve as ambassadors to the event and participate in conference marketing efforts.

Following is a listing of the SPECS/2018 Ambassadors Club.

• Bruce Brock, director of real estate, Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs

• Bill Chaff, VP, real estate & construction, bd’s Mongolian Grill and Flat Top Grill

Sara Craven, former corporate design & construction regional director, Avis Budget Group

Dan Garneau, site development manager, Kum & Go

Lindsey Garza, director, health & wellness innovations, Wal-Mart Stores

Eric Johnson, director of store planning, Brookshire Brothers Inc.

Alan Norton, senior manager, health and wellness innovations, design & formats, Wal-Mart Stores

Doug Pellock, VP, construction and purchasing, Marcus Theatres

David Shotwell, senior director of construction and facilities, Cook Out Restaurants

Kent Swank, senior director construction, The Home Depot

Parke Wellman, DVP, store design, construction, visual merchandising, Helzberg Diamonds

Now in its 54th year, SPECS will host its 2018 conference in Dallas, at the Gaylord Texan, March 18-20. The event will focus on what’s next, and what is shaping the future of physical retail.

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ECOMMERCE

Chinese e-commerce giant in joint venture with Marriott

BY Marianne Wilson

Alibaba Group Holding is expanding its online travel footprint.

The retailer has formed a joint venture with Marriott International that will make it easy for Chinese consumers to book hotel rooms across the 30 brands managed by the U.S. hotelier. Chinese customers will be able use Alibaba’s travel platform, called Fliggy, to book rooms and other related experiences at the hotels. The program will market directly to Alibaba’s customer base, provide a link between Marriott’s loyalty programs and Alibaba’s loyalty program, and support Marriott hotels globally with content, programs and promotions customized for the Chinese traveler.

In addition, travelers will be able to use Alibaba’s smartphone payment platform during their stays at Marriott-branded hotels. Hotels in select markets will accept Alipay, Alibaba's online payment service. China’s online travel sales market this year will be worth about $86.9 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“We are proud to join forces with Marriott International – combining our large-scale consumer base, leading-edge technology and consumer insights with their unparalleled hospitality expertise,” said Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group. “Together, we are elevating and redefining the travel experience for Chinese consumers to be more seamless and personalized as they embark on adventures to discover the world.”

Under the terms of the deal, Marriott will offer access to private concerts, family-focused experiences, and court-side seats at sporting and other events through its rewards programs. Eligible members from Alibaba’s loyalty program will benefit from personalized hospitality programs and Marriott’s customer loyalty program.

"By forming this partnership, we are pairing our hospitality expertise with Alibaba’s digital travel platform, retail expertise and digital payment platform, Alipay, and driving membership to our loyalty programs," stated Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson.

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