REAL ESTATE

Report: U.S. strip-mall vacancy rate declines

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The average vacancy rate at strip malls across the United States edged down for the first time in nearly seven years in the first quarter, falling to 10.9% from 11% in the prior quarter, according to preliminary data by real-estate research company Reis Inc., Reuters reported. It was the first decline in nearly seven years.

But the firm warned consumer spending is still not strong enough to lift retail real estate out of its slump.

"The tide of the economy is not rising quickly enough to raise all the ships in the ocean of retail," according to the report.

The average asking rental rate at strip malls in the first quarter inched up 0.1%, the same increase as in the fourth quarter, to $19.05 per square foot. Effective rent also was up 0.1%, to $16.57 per square foot.

Regional malls vacancy rates in the first quarter fell to 9% from 9.2% in the previous quarter. It was the second consecutive quarterly decline for the regional centers. The average asking rent in the centers rose 0.2% to $39.00 per square foot.

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Safeway names new president

BY CSA STAFF

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway has named Robert Edwards president of the company. Edwards has served as Safeway’s EVP and CFO since 2004.

Edwards, 56, will have overall responsibility for the company’s retail operations, marketing, merchandising, corporate brands, manufacturing, distribution and finance functions. He will continue as CFO until a successor is named to the position.

"Robert is one of those unusual executives with a strong command of both the financial and operational sides of our business," said Safeway chairman and CEO, Steve Burd. "His deep engagement with our operations and marketing units while he has been CFO will make for a seamless transition to Robert’s new role. His assumption of these new duties provides me an opportunity to concentrate more of my time on innovation and a range of strategic initiatives that will drive core and non-core business growth in the long term."

The company also announced that Larree Renda, 53, EVP, will assume additional responsibilities for real estate (including property development centers) and information technology, which adds to her current duties managing human resources and labor relations, strategic initiatives, corporate social responsibility, government relations, public affairs and Safeway health.

Before joining Safeway, Edwards served as EVP and CFO at Maxtor Corp., and was SVP, CFO and CAO at Imation Corporation. Prior to that, he had a 20-year career at Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corporation and its affiliates. He currently serves on the Boards of Blackhawk Network Holdings, Inc., Casa Ley, S.A. de C.V., Safeway’s joint venture in Mexico, and KKR Financial Holdings LLC.

Renda began her career at retail with Safeway in 1974. After progressing through the store ranks, she joined the corporate team in 1991 as VP retail and advanced through a succession of more senior leadership roles to her current position as EVP. Renda chairs the Safeway foundation board of directors and serves on the board of Casa Ley. She is also on the board of HSBC finance corporation and HSBC North America Holdings Inc. Renda is a trustee on the national joint labor management committee.

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Family Dollar adds to legal team

BY CSA STAFF

MATTHEWS, N.C. —Family Dollar Stores has named Jon Broz to the position of VP and assistant general counsel, litigation. Broz will report to James Snyder, Jr., SVP general counsel and secretary.

“We are excited to have someone with Jon’s breadth of retail litigation experience join our team,” said Snyder. “Jon has a strong reputation for working closely with his clients and seeking creative solutions to resolve disputes quickly and cost effectively.”

Broz comes to Family Dollar from Lowe’s, where he served most recently as VP and assistant general counsel for litigation. Prior to joining Lowe’s, Broz worked for Collective Brands Inc., and previous to that, he was a Litigation Partner at Husch & Eppenberger (now Husch Blackwell Sanders) in Kansas City, Mo. Broz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and his Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas. He was also a member of the University of Kansas Law Review.

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