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Kat Cole, COO and president of restaurant giant Focus Brands, was among this year's keynote presenters.
The Women in Retail networking reception, sponsored by American/Interstate Signcrafters, drew a big crowd.
Dunkin’ Brands’ Shane Clark and Samantha Jupe were among the chains that participated in the Face-to-Face Information Exchange, where retailers meet suppliers in brief, pre-scheduled meetings.
This year’s Breakout Retailer Awards were sponsored by HFA Architects + Engineers. Left to right: Mike Mettler, Orangetheory Fitness; Chris Horton, HFA; John Kennelly, b8ta; Larry Lott, HFA; Steve Heeley, Veggie Grill; Alexandra Diaz, Adore Me; Craig Hale, HFA; and Chen Sapirstein, Lolli & Pops.
Gary Esposito, SPECS Show chairman and VP, Chain Store Age, welcomed attendees to the event.
Robert Herjavec — business owner, investor and a "shark" on the ABC hit show "Shark Tank" — was the SPECS headlining keynoter.
STORE SPACES

SPECS puts spotlight on physical retail

BY Marianne Wilson

Retail and restaurant executives from the nation’s leading chains joined suppliers, architects and other industry professionals at Chain Store Age’s 55th annual SPECS Show. The premier networking and educational event for brick-and-mortar retail, SPECS is focused on how industry trends and technology are transforming the design/planning, construction and maintenance of physical stores. (Click here for SPECS video highlights.)

This year’s show, held at the Gaylord Texan in Dallas, was the largest SPECS ever, with retail attendance up for the second consecutive year. The program combined keynote presentations and educational sessions with a dynamic exhibit floor and plenty of networking opportunities, including pre-scheduled one-on-one business meetings. Robert Herjavec, the investor and entrepreneur who is best known as a shark on ABC’s hit television show “Shark Tank,” kicked off the formal program with an inspiring keynote address.

Other keynote highlights included Kat Cole, COO and president of restaurant giant Focus Brands North America, whose 5,500-store portfolio includes Jamba Juice, Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Carvel, Schlotzsky’s, and more.

“The brands that win are the ones that stay closest to the customer….because the customer is driving everything,” Cole told the audience.

The show also included the presentation of CSA’s annual Breakout Retail Awards. Five innovative and growing brands — Adore Me, b8ta, Lolli & Pops, Orangetheory Fitness and b8ta — were honored and shared the spotlight during a special Q&A.

The educational part of the program included more than 20 individual workshop sessions. The agenda covered a broad range of topics, from experiential store environments and pre-fab and modular building solutions to new energy regulations and facilities management software solutions. Another session,“Women in Retail: Drivers of Change,” featured an all-star panel of female retail construction and facilities executives.

Business networking has long been the hallmark of SPECS and this year was no exception. Attendees came together on the floor and at workshop sessions as well as for meals and evening receptions.

SPECS will return to the Lone Star State, and the Gaylord Texan in Dallas, next year. SPECS Show 2020 will be held from March 15 – 17.

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