REAL ESTATE

Torchy’s Tacos signs into a Houston-metro town center

BY Michael Fickes

Houston — Torchy’s Tacos has leased a 3,886-sq.-ft. restaurant at LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch in the Houston suburb of Katy, according to Vista Equities Group, the owner of the center. Baker Katz represented Torchy’s in the transaction.

Vista Cos. is comprised of Vista Equities Group, Vista Management Co. and Vista Brokerage Services. Vista Equities develops new properties and acquires existing properties. Vista Management provides leasing and property management services for third party owners and Vista’s own investment partnerships. Vista Brokerage Services secures existing properties for Vista and provides brokerage services for third party owners.

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STORE SPACES

Retailers in expansion mode include mix of old and new players

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Retailers making headlines with store expansion plans include new players as well as global powerhouses. Just in the starting gate is Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, a new specialty grocery format featuring value-priced healthy and organic offerings. The company plans to open over 60 stores throughout the Midwest during the next five years.

Fresh Thyme Markets will open its first store this spring, in Mt. Prospect, Ill., followed by eight more openings, spread out between Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, by year-end. The company, headed up by Chris Sherrell, the former CEO of Sunflower Farmers Market, will enter Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Minnesota in 2015.

In other news, Walmart generated big buzz with the news that it is doubling the projected growth of its small-store format which operate under the Walmart Neighborhood Market and Walmart Express banners. The chain has increased its growth target to 270 to 300 units.

Canadian fast-casual chain Tim Hortons unveiled a strategic four-year growth plan for 2014-2018 called “Winning in the New Era.” The plan includes the opening of 300 new U.S. locations by 2018.

And Gap Inc. continues to expand its Athleta brand, with plans to add 30 additional stores this year.

Other retailers making news on the expansion front include:

• Sprouts Farmers Markets Inc. expects to open 22 to 24 new stores in its current fiscal year.

• Ashley Furniture HomeStore, the largest furniture retailer in the U.S., recently celebrated the opening of its 500th store in Longview, Texas. The company, whose sales exceeded $3 billion in 2013, has 50 additional HomeStore openings on tap in 2014.


• Tim Hortons announced plans to open 300 new U.S. locations by 2018. The Canadian fast-casual restaurant chain also plans to expand globally.

• Stein Mart plans to open 10 stores this year, the company’s largest store expansion since 2007.

• Lumber Liquidators expects to open a total of 30 to 40 locations and remodel of a total of 25 to 35 existing stores, all in the “store of the future” format.

• Hobby Lobby announced it will open 70 U.S. stores in 2014, for a total of 625 locations nationwide. As part of its expansion, the arts and crafts retailer will enter the states of Vermont and Oregon.

• Conn’s expects to open 15 to 20 stores in its current fiscal year.

• Uniqlo is expanding into Southern California. The Japanese apparel giant will open its first stores in the region this fall, at the Beverly Center in Los Angeles and South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.

Uniqlo announced it will open an additional location in Northern California, at the Sunvalley Shopping Center in Concord, and a store at Stamford Town Center, Stamford, Conn.

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REAL ESTATE

Report: Future bright for brick-and-mortar retail

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The future looks bright for retail stores. That’s the conclusion of a new report by the International Council of Shopping Centers. The report, set to be released in May during ICSC’s RECon Conference, finds that population growth in the United States is now outpacing the addition of retail space by three-and-a-half times.

“As a result, shopping space per capita, which peaked in 2009 at 24.2 square feet, now stands at 23.7. This correction will make way for demand in new retail space once again,” the report said.

According to ICSC research, announced store closings in 2013 decreased 43% versus the previous year. When new Census Bureau data becomes available, it is likely that both 2012 and 2013 were net positive in terms of new retail stores.

In another positive sign, pure online retailers are looking for physical space. The report cites such examples as women’s accessories retailer JustFab, which opened its first store in 2012.

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