DAY 3 @ ICSC
Four retailers rose to the top in Vegas when ICSC surveyed its 55,000 members and asked them to vote on imagination and creativity. Actor and return ICSC RECon host Carson Kressley (ofQueer Eye fame) 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.
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.
Yesterday on the trade show floor, we ran into a fan of our BisnowTexas pubs: Weitzman Group managing director Bob Young. He tells us the firm brought 80 people to RECon this year, including 60 brokerage professionals. Weitzman leases, sells, and builds commercial retail in DFW, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston. Bob?s observation about RECon 2011: It's clearly more upbeat this year; the firm's making some deals, building relationships, and finding new prospects. ?Everyone is active,? he says. ?It's just a matter of converting that activity into closed business, and I think we're pointed in that direction.? After watching others' Vegas escapades, the fact that anyone can stand, let alone face the right direction is encouraging.