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Trump: Amazon has “huge” antitrust problem

BY Marianne Wilson

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is no fan of Amazon, its founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, and The Washington Post, which Bezos also owns.

Trump told Fox News personality Sean Hannity that "Amazon is getting away with murder, tax-wise. He's using The Washington Post for power so that the politicians in Washington don't tax Amazon like they should be taxed.”

Trump also said Bezos is worried about me because "he thinks I would go after him for antitrust because he's got a huge antitrust problem. Amazon is controlling so much of what they're doing … What he's got is a monopoly and he wants to make sure I don't get in."

Trump’s accusations came the day after veteran journalist Robert Woodward, an associate editor of the Post, in an address at the National Association of Realtors convention, said that that the newspaper plans to publish a book about the candidate. Woodward, best known for helping to uncover the Watergate break-in story, also said he has started investigating Trump's real estate deals in New York, which he called "more complex than the CIA."

Trump said that Bezos is using the Post "for political purposes to save Amazon in terms of taxes and in terms of antitrust.”

In a statement reported by the Associated Press, Post executive editor Martin Barron said that he has "received no instructions from Jeff Bezos" regarding campaign coverage, and the decision to write a book came from the newsroom."

This isn't the first time that Trump and Bezos have been at odds. In 2015, Trump tweeted that the Post was owned by Bezos for “purposes of keeping taxes down at his no profit company.” Bezos responded by offering to shoot Trump up into space in a rocket owned by his (Bezos) company: "Finally trashed by @realDonaldTrump. Will still reserve him a seat on the Blue Origin rocket. #sendDonaldtospace http://bit.ly/1OpyW5N"

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Pros and Cons-truction: Challenges, best practices of unique retail buildouts

For developers, architects and commercial construction professionals, designing and building retail spaces is a highly specialized skill that requires experience and considerable expertise to master.

While brand standards, design consistency and proven buildout processes lead to some welcome efficiencies, sometimes unavoidable constraints and specific requirements that are mandated both by retailers and landlords can also create unique logistical and development challenges.

From storefronts to floor plans, and from custom artwork and aesthetic elements to high-end materials that may be difficult to procure or install, custom retail spaces are packed with potential challenges for even the most experienced development and construction professionals.

Understanding those challenges–and appreciating some of the tools and techniques for overcoming them–can be an important part of a smooth development and construction process that enables all parties to work together in a constructive, collaborative and effective way.

One of the most unique challenges presented to commercial developers and construction professionals is a situation where a retailer (often times a higher end or luxury brand retailer) is committed to maintaining a certain store size or layout to adhere to established brand standards or store concepts. If the available space cannot accommodate those standards, creativity is in order.

Retailers may be more likely to accept a smaller footprint or what they perceive to be a less-than-ideal layout if they can get a prime location within the shopping center, or perhaps the chance to design and build a unique or eye-catching storefront. Development and construction professionals should be willing and able to work closely with retail architects to make their vision a reality. In the case of storefront design, landlords tend to be fairly accommodating.

Sometimes it may make sense to actually set the store entrance back a few feet and run the glass walls of the storefront in on an angle–a design tactic that gives the illusion of grandeur and makes the space look bigger than it actually is. Malls also tend to have upscale/luxury tenants grouped together, in many cases in a part of the building that is more flexible with respect to accommodating larger footprints or other non-standard features.

MATERIALS

Another issue that comes up often has to do with materials. Many retailers today like to provide certain specific materials or décor, or have customized aesthetic touches that are a brand signature or design priority. In the case of fashion retailer Max Mara, select pieces of vintage wood from an old stadium in Italy are being utilized in each store. Not only might materials like these be brittle, old and non-regular in size, there is a time and scheduling element that comes into play.

Every time something has to be shipped from overseas, the potential for delays and unpredictable shipping schedules rises. Time is money, and at a time when build times are being tightened up to the bare minimum to avoid waste and unnecessary spending, any additional delays can be a potential problem.

Another example of timeline challenges stems from a procedural issue that some retailers encounter. In circumstances where corporate mandates a certain process (securing three independent bids for a job, for example) the time it takes to review the bids, qualify them and make their selection can cut into build time significantly. In this and in other situations where the construction schedule is curtailed, it can become impossible to execute step-dependent tasks in the right sequence.

The solution is for the builder/developer to take a less regimented, more opportunistic approach and to simply do what can be done whenever it is possible to do it. If Versace’s custom mosaic tile floor in the store entrance hasn’t arrived yet, put down some temporary plywood flooring and move forward!

COORDINATION

Because high-level coordination and scheduling is so important, the builder/developer should be proactive about reaching out to the retailer from the beginning and getting names and contact information for the client’s vendors and suppliers.

When those third parties are looped in to schedules, they will often be able to let the builder know in advance whether they can make these deadlines, allowing ample time up front to coordinate around those realities.

Retailers with a proven “cookie cutter” store format often have an efficient and effective buildout system and schedule in place. A new market or a new location won’t always work with that system, however, so clear and consistent communication up front is essential here, as well.

In cases where potential delays are due to specific products or materials, a proactive builder/developer partner may even be able to identify quality alternates to present to the architect for approval. In the process of developing Taubman’s International Market Place in Hawaii, for example, a twelve-week delivery time for tile that was only made in Italy was trimmed to just four weeks when an alternative was located in Tennessee.

TECHNOLOGY

The good news for all parties is that new technology tools are making it even easier to facilitate the kind of communication that makes it easier to identify problems, find solutions and complete retail buildouts in a speedy and cost-effective manner.

Even something as simple as using Apple’s FaceTime on your iPhone so the client doesn’t have to come directly to the space (and so the builder can show an architect what s/he is looking at) can make a big difference. Apps like Bubbli that allow you to take 360-degree spherical images that a viewer can interact with make it possible to replicate the experience of being in the store without actually being on site.

And some developers/builder regularly use drone to take aerial photos and videos that give a better sense of scale and positioning. Exciting new tools that make it clear that even as new challenges arise, new solutions are available for development and construction professionals with proven retail buildout experience.

Todd Sachse is founder and CEO of Sachse Construction and Chuck Hundley is director of retail operations & tenant coordination at Sachse. Founded in 1991 and based in Detroit, Sachse has built millions of square feet spanning the retail, commercial, multifamily and institutional sectors. It is licensed in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Puerto Rico ().

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Report: J.C. Penney ahead of the curve

BY CSA STAFF

Despite J.C. Penney's disappointing sales results, the chain still performed better than its peers in the first quarter. What’s more, Penney an array of new initiatives lined up to help it connect better with a new era of shoppers. To read more, click here

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