Talbots names senior VP of stores
Hingham, Mass. — The Talbots said Thursday it has named Lesli Gilbert as senior VP stores, effective June 27.
Gilbert will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of Talbots core retail operations in the United States and Canada, as well as supporting the implementation of the company’s store reimage and rationalization programs. She will report to president and CEO Trudy F. Sullivan.
Gilbert was most recently regional VP East for T-Mobile USA, and, prior to that, was senior director of sales and customer experience at Gap.
Gap to close 200 U.S. stores, will expand outlets
San Francisco — At an investor conference on Thursday, Gap CEO Glenn Murphy announced the company will close 200 of its 900 U.S. namesake stores even as it expands its outlet presence.
While the company did not identify which stores will close, Gap said the 200 Gap brand closures over the next two years will be accompanied by a push to expand its Gap Outlet and Banana Republic factory chains.
At the Piper Jaffray investor conference, Murphy said he believes the company can recapture operating margins of 13.4%, which it saw in 2010. Operating margins were 8.5% in first quarter 2011.
Murphy also outlined a plan for Gap Inc. to shift from being primarily a specialty retailer in North America to being more of a value player. In addition to closing 200 Gap brand stores, Gap will grow its Gap Outlets to about 250 stores, a net addition of 50 or 60 stores. It will grow its Banana Republic Factory store count to about 150, a net addition of about 40 stores.
"The economic model of Outlet is the highest return on capital and is where customers gravitate," Murphy said in the meeting. "Everywhere around the world there’s a way to put the value expression of the brand."
The Athleta brand is slated for expansion, with 10 stores scheduled to open by year-end 2011 and ready to “explode” the brands’ real estate opportunities in 2012 and beyond, said Murphy.
Murphy also said that he would dramatically reduce the number of vendors with whom Gap works, including working more directly with mills, in an effort to secure better prices and a faster, more flexible pipeline.
RECon Revisited: A Series: Part 3
As part three of our ongoing coverage of RECon, the annual retail real estate convention conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers and held May 22-25 in Las Vegas, Chain Store Age talked with Joe Boehm, senior VP, retail leasing, of Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises, regarding his impressions of RECon 2011 and what Forest City projects garnered the most attention at the show.
What impression of the state of the industry were you left with by the end of RECon 2011?
After Recon 2011, it felt like there was more stability in the industry than in the previous few years. While there is certainly still caution relative to market conditions, there seems to be a feeling that things have bottomed. It feels like we are headed in the right direction, although growth and improvement may be slow and come over time.
What Forest City projects received the greatest interest during the show?
Westchester’s Ridge Hill, a 1.3-million-sq.-ft. open-air retail and entertainment center [in Yonkers, N.Y.], generated the strongest interest since it is one of the few new developments under way in the country and there have been significant enhancements in terms of tenant mix and momentum. Lord & Taylor will anchor the center. Cutting-edge clothiers H&M, Desigual, Republic of Couture, Gap, and Old Navy, and cookware retailer Sur La Table are the six newest tenants to be added to the lineup, which also includes Whole Foods, L.L. Bean, Showcase Cinema De Lux, Dick’s Sporting Goods and REI.
Were your dealmakers actually making deals at RECon?
At this point, our dealmakers believe there was more sincere interest and deal potential at this convention than over the past few years. How many deals will actually be made will become more clear over the course of the next six months. However, we have much more optimism than we have had in recent years that these were concrete deals that will be completed.
What are your priorities as a company for the rest of 2011?
We are focused on continuing to protect and enhance our balance sheet, which means improving liquidity and enhancing the mix of our shopping center portfolio. With select properties in particular, we’re looking to enhance our portfolio with the flight-to-quality theme that is pervasive throughout the retail community.