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Day 3 @ ICSC

Day 3 @ ICSC
Forgive the headline shorthand, but swapping 30,000 business cards is exhausting! Another guy who's earned a break? Starbucks CEO and chairman Howard Schultz, who brought his company back from the brink (and kept grande Caramel Macchiatos in our lives). He was one of many headliners during our visit to Vegas and ICSC.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz; Carson Kressley, Queer Eye; Fossil retail prez Jennifer Pritchard;

Four other retailers rose to the top when ICSC surveyed its 55,000 members and asked them to vote on imagination and creativity. Actor and return ICSC RECon host Carson Kressley (of Queer Eyefame) interviewed the winners, including Fossil retail prez  Jennifer Pritchard, center. Her company will add 75 to 100 stores globally this year. Other honorees: women's activewear brand Athleta, which is about to open stores on NYC?s Upper East and West Sides and in LA and will have at least 50 launched by '13; food-not-frills grocer Aldi, which plans to open 90 to 100 a year and has a  $360M capital expense budget this year (targets: NY, Florida, and Texas); and Smashburger, which estimates it'll grow from 100 locations to 500 within five years.

Cool-de-Sac CEO Jose Luis Bueno (while ICSC prez Michael Kercheval chaperones
We snapped Carson interviewing play center/restaurant Cool-de-Sac CEO Jose Luis Bueno (while ICSC prez Michael Kercheval chaperones). Cool-de-Sac has locations in Mexico City and Miami and plans to expand. SoCal's organic, low-sugar juicemonger Nekter Juice Bar intends to grow nationwide—and rapidly. And casual Mediterranean eatery  Crazy Pita is targeting Nevada, California, Arizona, and Texas. ICSC named all three as retailers to watch.
Huddle House CDO Mark Whittle (400 locations), National Restaurant Development CEO Aziz Hashim, Dunkin? Brands CDO John Dawson (16,000 locations), and 7-Eleven franchise development director Mike McCormick at ICSC in Las Vegas
All these expansions bode well for the US franchise industry, which last year had 765,000 establishments accounting for 7.6M jobs and $760B of economic output. Huddle House CDO Mark Whittle (400 locations), National Restaurant Development CEO Aziz Hashim, Dunkin? Brands CDO John Dawson (16,000 locations), and 7-Eleven franchise development director Mike McCormick (42,000 locations and growing by 500 a year) say establishments and jobs will grow 2.5%  this year and economic output 4.7% (adding new meaning to ?America Runs on Dunkin?). Franchises accounted for 36% of last year's 80M SF of retail absorption.