REAL ESTATE

Hecht: New Century City is watershed moment for Westfield

BY Al Urbanski

Westfield COO Bill Hecht looks at the billion-dollar re-do of the company’s Century City Mall in Los Angeles and sees the dawning of a new era in retail.

Bill Hecht

“We believed that, with Century City, we had the opportunity to evolve it into the next generation of retailing,” said Hecht on the occasion of the re-opening of the renovated mall. “We had a fantastic customer base and location. We have tourists, a local office population, and the Beverly Hills and Bel Air crowd that have always felt that Century City was their place to shop. We were able to approach this set with a blank canvas.”

The renovation added more than 400,000 sq. ft. of retail space to Century City, bringing the destination’s total to 1.3 million sq. ft. shared among what will be a total of about 230 shops upon final completion. The tenant mix reflects a change that Westfield says it will be bringing to all its malls, a formula that blends fitness, grocery, healthcare, and dining to luxury retail to make for a sort-of high-end necessity-based center.

The new Century City boasts the West Coast’s first Eataly, a new Nordstrom and Macy’s, a renovated Bloomingdale’s, an Equinox fitness club, a Gelson’s upscale supermarket and a 15-screen AMC Theatres, Coming soon: a health-and-wellness center from UCLA focused on preventive care.

Redone common areas and interiors will be graced by art works on loan from the Annenberg Center for Photography and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Permanent works will also be in residence from sculptors such rounded-form master Jun Kuneko and as Stan Bitters with his ceramic work “California DNA.”

“We were really sensitive to what our customers wanted, which could be summed up in two words: California Soul,” Hecht said. “You can walk into a center and feel the warm and fuzzies or you can not feel good at all. Now you go into Century City and you feel good.”

Westfield is investing plenty in spreading those California good vibrations. Another billion-dollar re-make is underway at Westfield Valley Fair in Santa Clara and a $600 million renovation will be unveiled later this year at Westfield UTC in San Diego.

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: Companies may be doubling down on AI, but they remain wary

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

While a staggering 80% of enterprises are investing in artificial intelligence (AI), many anticipate significant barriers to arise.

This was according to new research from Teradata, which is based on responses from 260 large global organizations.

According to the data, one in three business leaders believe their company will need to invest more capital in their AI efforts over the next 36 months to keep pace with competitors. However, leaders are anticipating significant challenges when it comes to adoption. As a result, many are looking to strategize against those issues by creating a new C-suite position, the Chief AI Officer (CAIO), to streamline and coordinate AI adoption.

Once companies establish an AI roadmap and supporting team, the top three areas where businesses expect AI to drive revenue are product innovation/research and development (50%); customer service (46%); and supply chain and operations (42%). This mirrored some of the top areas of AI investment, which include customer experience (62%), product innovation (59%) and operational excellence (55%).

AI is already in production in 80% of organizations, although 42% said that there is lots of room for further implementation across the business. Meanwhile, 30% still believe that their organization isn’t investing enough and will need to invest more in AI technologies over the next 36 months to keep up with competitors in their industry.

Almost all respondents are anticipating barriers to adoption and ROI. Top concerns include barriers to AI realization (91%), such as a lack of IT infrastructure (40%) and lack of access to talent (34%). Other challenges include lack of budget for implementation (30%), complications around policies, regulations and rights (28%) and impact on customer expectations (23%). Only 19% view a weak business case for AI technologies as a concern, and only 20% are concerned about the impact of AI and automation on employee morale.

Despite these issues, companies are not slowing their pace of AI adoption. Why? Executives and IT decision-makers anticipate revenue increases (53%) and cost/efficiency savings (47%) from their AI investments. Only 28% of respondents said that their organization has enough trained people internally to buy, build and deploy AI.

While retailers anticipate needing a CAIO to coordinate and mandate implementation throughout the enterprise, the CIO (47%) and CTO (43%) are leading efforts today, but 62% of respondents plan to hire a dedicated a CAIO to lead the effort in the future.

Meanwhile, companies expect a 99% ROI in the next five years for every dollar invested today, and 187% in ROI over the next 10 years.

“There is an important trend emerging evident in this report — enterprises today see AI as a strategic priority that will help them outpace the competition in their respective industries,” says Atif Kureishy, VP, emerging practices at Think Big Analytics, a Teradata company. “But to leverage the full potential of this technology and gain maximum ROI, these businesses will need to revamp their core strategies so AI has an embedded role from the data center to the boardroom.”

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STORE SPACES

Gourmet gifting retailer will ‘pop up’ in more locations for the holidays

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Harry & David is bolstering its store fleet for the upcoming holiday season.

The gourmet gifting retailer will open approximately 20 pop-up stores nationwide this holiday season. The stores, which will operate in key market areas across the United States, will augment Harry & David’s 46 permanent retail locations.

The stores will feature an assortment of gourmet food gifts, including fruits, truffles, specialty chocolates, premium popcorn, novelty candy, bakery items and an array of holiday gift baskets and towers.

Stores have already started to open, and will stay in business until just after the holiday season ends.

“Harry & David has long been a part of America’s holiday gift-giving tradition, and we are excited to make our extraordinary products even more accessible to customers through our seasonal pop-up store initiative,” said Steve Lightman, president, Harry & David. “Our team looks forward to welcoming shoppers at all of our retail locations.”

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