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The Right Remodel

BY Katherine Boccaccio

From an owner’s or manager’s perspective, the right remodel can go a long way toward trimming the cost of operating a shopping center.

And lowered operating expenses can drop much-needed dollars to both the center’s and its tenants’ bottom lines.

According to Matthew Harding, president and COO of Levin Management Corp., North Plainfield, N.J., strategically cutting costs through shopping center renovations is a growing trend.

“It’s more important now than ever before to lower operating costs,” Harding said. “We look at it from a maintenance and a renovation standpoint, as we work to address items before they become an issue, not after they do.”

For instance, Harding said, maintaining and repairing parking lots before they degrade is one way to ultimately reduce costs.

“Once parking lots degrade and major repairs have to be made, that is going to increase operating costs,” he explained.

Levin Management approaches each of its shopping center remodels with not just maintenance in mind, but by planning what overhauls will drive the most efficiencies down the pike.

“When we approach a remodel, we are addressing energy efficiency, such as looking at new and different parking lot lighting with longer-life bulbs that use less energy,” Harding said. “We are exploring solar options, particularly when roof remodels are part of the renovation program.”

When Levin Management remodels individual tenant spaces, it examines energy-efficient light options as well as more efficient HVAC equipment.

“Incorporating a strong energy management program as part of a remodel—whether that remodel be at the shopping center or the tenant space level, or both—is paramount to lower the ongoing cost of maintaining a facility,” Harding said.

For Bed Bath & Beyond’s Christmas Tree Shops division, which opened a new store in an existing Linens ‘N Things space at Levin’s Somerset Shopping Center in Bridgewater, N.J., Levin undertook a full remodel of the 28,750-sq.-ft. space.

“The renovation involved everything from HVAC to lighting to a renovated loading area to make the space more efficient and to give Christmas Tree Shops its exact prototype, which would allow it to operate as efficiently as possible,” Harding said.

The new Christmas Tree Shops store committed to the space in mid-2009, construction launched that fall, and the store opened on Jan. 29, 2010, joining existing tenants Barnes & Noble, Gap, Modell’s, Pier 1 Imports and Eastern Mountain Sports.

On an even larger scale, Levin is in the throes of a major remodel of Post Road Plaza in Pelham Manor, N.Y., in Westchester County. The company was faced with either razing or remodeling the center, and opted to remodel.

“We added lots of efficiencies,” Harding said, “from new insulation and HVAC to new parking lot lighting. The energy-efficient systems and programs help to keep our costs down and, subsequently, to lower the operating costs for tenants.”

Revamping parking lot lighting alone, Harding said, has shown to reduce energy costs by 15%.

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Tiffany’s Q1 profit sparkles

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Tiffany & Co.’s net income more than doubled in the first quarter as its revenue rose in the United States and soared 50% in Asia, the company said Thursday.

The jeweler said it earned $64.4 million in the three months ended April 30. That compares with $24.3 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 22% to $633.6 million.

Revenue in the Americas increased 22% to $315.3 million, versus a 31% drop in the year-ago period. Adjusted for currency fluctuations, revenue rose 20%, and same-store sales rose 15%, led by the flagship on New York’s Fifth Avenue, where the figure rose 26%.

In the Asia-Pacific region, which doesn’t include Japan, Tiffany’s revenue soared 50% to $122.3 million. During the first quarter, the company opened its third store in Shanghai; by the end of the period, it operated 11 stores in China. Company officials said that they plan to have a total of 30 stores in China within the next five years.

In Japan, revenue slipped 2% to $115 million. Business in Europe rose 25% to $68.6 million.

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Best Buy Mobile enhances Web site

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Best Buy Mobile has annouced the re-launch of BestBuy.com/Mobile. According to the company, the new Web site will include such new features as online purchasing and Instant Ship, the new online hub offers convenient, customer-focused solutions for on-the-go gadget shoppers.

Through the new Web site, customers can now purchase a mobile phone online and have it shipped to their home or they can pick it up in-store. For customers needing assistance while choosing their phone online, Best Buy Mobile has a dedicated call center to respond.

 

“The capabilities within the enhanced site in combination with our in-store experience give Best Buy something completely and totally unique in the mobile phone marketplace,” said Shawn Score, president of Best Buy Mobile. “Now, we are truly a multi-channel mobile phone retailer supporting customers when and where they choose to engage us.”

 

Best Buy’s Mobile Web site provides customers with a larger range of functions, which include:

    * Online purchases: Customers can purchase a mobile phone with a contract using online channels. Customers place their order, and can then choose to pick up in store or have their new phone shipped directly to their home.    * Instant Ship: With Instant Ship, if a customer comes in and is qualified for a device that is not available in-store, the device can be ordered and shipped directly from the Web site. Instant Ship online improves the options of phones and colors for customers, and allows customers to have their new handset delivered right to their home.

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