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T2, New York

BY CSA STAFF
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Australian specialty tea retailer T2 has made its U.S. debut, opening a store in the heart of Manhattan's Soho neighborhood. The shop stocks over 200 teas from around the globe along with an extensive assortment of teapots, cups, sifters and other related items.

Designed by Landini Associates, T2 celebrates the art of making and drinking tea. The space has a raw, striped-back interior that gives it a modern, youthful vibe. T2 offers an immersive sensory experience, complete with a tea-tasting bar. The floor to ceiling displays of the brand's trademark orange packages of tea is offset by an industrial color palette,

T2 was founded by an Australian entrepreneur in 1996. In 2013, the chain was acquired by consumer goods giant Unilever, which knows a little something about tea: Its Lipton brand is the world's top selling tea.

Design: Landini Associates, Sydney, Australia

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Fitch names Hermann Behrens to new post of CEO, North American

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Retail and brand consultancy Fitch has appointed Hermann Behrens to the newly created role of CEO, North America, effective immediately. Behrens will lead the business out of Fitch’s newly established office in New York.

Behrens will be responsible for expanding Fitch’s reputation and client base in North America. He will work closely with the management teams at the company’s design studio in Columbus, Ohio and its architecture and engineering practices in Phoenix, Atlanta and Irvine.

South African-born Behrens began his career at Reckitt Benckiser until his move to Johannesburg branding agency KSDP in 2001. In 2004, Behrens set up Brand Union in Dubai, spending the next ten years expanding the business across the Middle East. His role stretched to encompass Africa with his appointment to regional director in 2012.

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Insights: Focus on Forever 21’s new format, F21 red

BY Katherine Boccaccio

For Los Angeles-based fashion retailer Forever 21, the journey from a single location on Figueroa Street in L.A. in 1984 to more than 680 global locations today has been transformative. Over the last three decades, the brand has not shied away from innovation and experimentation, implementing a range of different store sizes and concepts along the way: from smaller 5,000-sq.-ft. layouts in its early years, to larger 9,000-sq.-ft. concepts in the 2000s and a range of big-box stores that range up to 40,000 sq. ft.

The latest development from Forever 21 is something else entirely, however—a new branded concept that adds a fresh dimension to the company: F21 red. F21 red was designed to respond to growing customer demands for Forever 21 staples, delivering an increased depth of product at a significantly lower price point. The F21 red concept is intended to create an easy shopping experience for the entire family with an assortment of fashion staples from each of the Forever 21 lines, including Forever 21, Forever 21 Men, Forever 21 Plus and Forever 21 Girls. The concept makes it possible to stock that deeper inventory of options, and makes F21 red a natural fit for power centers and similar locations.

Providing greater quantities of the styles and trends customers are looking for is just part of the F21 red equation, however. F21 red not only maintains the value and entry-level category price points Forever 21 is known for offering, it brings them front-and-center. F21 red shoppers can find jeans for under $8, tank tops for less than $5 and camisoles for $2. From affordably priced fashion to floor plans, everything about F21 red is designed around accessibility and convenience.

From a store layout perspective, Men’s, Women’s and Kids sections are clearly identified. Shoppers will notice a wider customer path designed to accommodate strollers, further enhancing the image of a store designed with a smooth and seamless customer experience top of mind.

The first F21 red store opened its doors in May 2014 in Azalea Shopping Center in South Gate, California — and it rapidly became a popular destination. Currently, there are three operating F21 red stores, with stores in Oakdale Mall in Johnson City, New York, and The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove, Minnesota, joining the original South Gate location. While the pace of new openings has been modest in the early stages — a strategic decision designed to give the company an opportunity to gauge consumer response and fine tune the operational details — the success of the initial locations has validated the concept and made it an easy decision to move forward with expansion plans. “We are very pleased with the positive response to our Azalea store and are excited to expand the F21 red concept to meet customer needs in new markets,” said Linda Chang, Forever 21 VP of merchandising.

As part of the ongoing F21 red rollout, a larger expansion of stores is slated to begin in 2015. F21 red will be expanding both domestically and overseas, and, while specific markets will be strategically targeted, the company will also be flexible and move to capitalize on emerging opportunities.

Jonathan Lapat, X Team International President and principal with Boston-based Strategic Retail Advisors, who is handling the brand’s northeast expansion, says that because the F21 red concept manages to bridge the gap between high fashion and low prices, there is a welcome degree of flexibility available when targeting markets for new locations.

“This is an exciting retail concept with outstanding potential for expansion, both throughout the northeast and nationally,” commented Lapat. “The mass appeal of the brand and the high demand of the product F21 red is offering makes it a great fit for a wide range of markets and project types. We’re energized by the opportunity to help this new concept make a splash in our region.”

And because F21 red stores generally slot into a different category of retail and mixed-use destinations than traditional Forever 21 stores, there is less risk of market redundancy and competitive overlap. For an exciting new concept from a successful national brand, those look like the ingredients of winning recipe.

Watch for more installments of “Retail Real Estate Insights. For Retailers. By Retailers,” an exclusive Chainstoreage.com real estate series.

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