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Yearend Review: New York’s Retail Stars

BY Marianne Wilson

This time of the year invariably brings with it a flurry of “Best of” and “Top 10” lists. In the spirit of the season, here are the top stores of the year from New York City’s reigning retail maven, Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Retail Leasing, Marketing & Sales Division. Consolo may be a fashionista, but she is no retail snob. Her picks run the gamut from luxe locations to value players to “statement” stores. Here’s the rundown (with her comments):

Ralph Lauren Mansions: Dividing his lines into two restored mansions on the Upper East Side, Ralph provides his signature classic American feel to 867 Madison (the Rhinelander Mansions, which he restored in the 1980s, while women and the home are outfitted at the newly refurbished 888, with grand salons and statement staircases. (867 Madison Avenue — 888 Madison Avenue)

Hermes Men’s Store: Thank you, Don Draper! Elegant menswear is back, and the ultra-luxe label spared no expense to provide an elegant setting for ties, suits, shirts, and shoes. Beautifully presented and now a headquarters for men’s style. (690 Madison Avenue)

Dior: First, the store had the most attractive construction facade I’ve ever seen — an outsized Dior purse. When the facade came down a few days ago, though, it unveiled one of the most beautiful stores I’ve ever seen. Floral ceiling reliefs and couches give the impression of a home you’ve dropped in on rather than a gigantic retailer. (21 East 57th Street)

Nordstrom: Continuing value’s domination of the 14th Street shopping district, this was also Nordstrom’s first foray into Manhattan (finally!). And it’s paved the way for a full-line Nordstrom to come to the West Side, and a charity shop to open downtown. (60 East 14th Street)

Target: Why should the outer boroughs and ‘burbs get all the bargains? The expansion of Marshall’s and TJ Maxx also give us urban dwellers the same value advantages of our suburban siblings. About time! (517 East 117th Street)

Hollister: I’m not exactly its target customer, but its storefront — video screens with a live feed of the Pacific Ocean could change how other stores attract shoppers. Plus, who doesn’t like to look at pounding surf? (666 Fifth Ave.)

Forever 21: The Times Square flagship (and a Fifth Avenue pop-up) is a fabulous visit to fun fast fashion — with New York City cabs as decoration! This has helped re-establish Times Square as a retail destination. (1515 Broadway)

Marc Jacobs: Everywhere on Bleecker Street
Okay, maybe not everywhere, and it is a little controversial, but Jacobs’ new stores (BookMarc, Marc Jacobs, LittleMarc, Marc by Marc Jacobs) are essentially creating a new department store in the Village.

Michael Kors: Kors, too, is expanding around the town, with signature and Lifestyle stores. Next up is Fifth Avenue at 20th Street. (667 Madison Avenue – 790 Madison Avenue – 974 Madison Avenue – 101 Prince Street – 384 Bleecker Street)

Limelight Marketplace: Converting a church-turned-notorious-disco into a retail center is a brave gamble. Time will tell whether this "Festival of Shops" and eateries will work. But I give them credit for trying — and laud them for preserving so many architectural details of the 19th century church. (47 West 20th Street)

And one I’m looking forward to:

Uniqlo – 666 Fifth Avenue
No, it’s not open yet — but it’s also the largest lease in the history of New York City ($300 million for 15 years), so it’s an important vote of confidence in the continuing vitality of retail — and a symbol of Fifth Avenue’s egalitarian retail offerings. And it wasn’t even my deal!

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OPERATIONS

Judge blocks former Wal-Mart exec from CVS job

BY CSA STAFF

Woonsocket, R.I. — A Delaware judge on Wednesday barred a former top executive for Wal-Mart Stores from taking a job as president of CVS Caremark Corp. until a trial is held on Wal-Mart’s claim that the executive signed a noncompete agreement that prevents him from working for CVS. The trial is scheduled for early March.

Vice-chancellor J. Travis Laster granted Wal-Mart’s request for a preliminary injunction following a hearing, which the nation’s largest retailer argued that Hank Mullany possessed confidential Wal-Mart information that CVS, a competitor, could use to its advantage.

CVS announced earlier this month that it had hired Mullany, who until last month was president of Wal-Mart’s Northern U.S. business.

Wal-Mart then sued CVS and Mullany, saying Mullany had signed a contract with Wal-Mart that forbids him from working for a competing company for at least two years.

According to Laster, CVS and Mullany took a calculated risk when entering into their employment agreement that Wal-Mart would not seek to enforce the noncompete agreement Mullany signed when he was promoted last January to president of Wal-Mart North.

The judge ruled that the scope and duration of the noncompete agreement appeared reasonable, and that Mullany, an experienced executive who consulted an attorney before signing the employment contract with Wal-Mart, should have know what he was doing.

Laster rejected CVS’s argument that it should not be considered a competitor of Wal-Mart, and that the noncompete agreement should not be enforced because Mullany did not work directly for Wal-Mart’s pharmacy business.

He said it was simply a "common-sense notion" that Wal-Mart and CVS, compete in the pharmacy sector, particularly when both are trying to expand and Wal-Mart is planning "small format" stores.

Lawrence Portnoy, an attorney for CVS, said that Mullany did not have any knowledge that would prove useful in the chain’s battling Wal-Mart’s small-format initiative.

"Whatever Mr. Mullany knew about small format, it’s old and cold already," Portnoy said, adding that CVS hired Mullany not for his knowledge about the pharmacy business, but for his general management experience.

But Laster noted that CVS and Wal-Mart were on "a collision course," and that Mullany was the executive sponsor of Wal-Mart’s small-format initiative.

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REAL ESTATE

WD Partners has contract to develop high-performance Home Depot store

BY CSA STAFF

Columbus, Ohio — WD Partners has signed a multi-year contract with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to develop a high-performance Home Depot store in California through the Department of Energy’s Commercial Building Partnership (CBP). CBP projects put cutting-edge building techniques and technologies on the fast-track to wide-spread commercial use.

The team will design and construct an energy-efficient Home Depot prototype store that will require up to 50% less energy than American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Illuminating Engineering Society of North America Standard 90.1-2007 compliant buildings. The project is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

WD Partners has collaborated with The Home Depot for more than eight years to improve the efficiency and performance of their stores, including using other regional programs that incentivize energy such as Austin Energy Green Building and Savings by Design.

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