ICSC selects six retailers as the hottest for 2007

Filed under: Retail |

The International Council of Shopping Centers presented six tenants with its 2007 Hot Retailers Award.

The winners were J. Crew, The Little Gym, Lucy, ULTA, Uniqlo and WineStyles. These tenants won because of their wide range of goods, representing the diversity of resources in today’s shopping centers.

The winners were selected through a survey of ICSC’s 70,000 members in more than 80 countries. Members were asked to name those concepts they consider to be the most innovative and promising.

J. Crew’s Chairman and CEO Millard Drexler accepted his company’s award. Drexler took his job in January 2003 and worked to reinvigorate the product range with color and design changes.

As the selection of high-quality goods went up, so did performance.

Revenue for fiscal 2006 increased 21 percent, and comparable store sales rose 13 percent. Sales per square foot rose to $526 last year, compared to $457 in 2005. J. Crew operates180 stores and 53 factory outlets.

Another winner, The Little Gym, teaches children about good health through karate, gymnastics and similar activities.

Lucy offers fashionable private-label and branded apparel and accessories for women to wear in or out of the gym. Lucy operates nearly 50 stores in 12 states and has plans to open 14 more this year and about 25 next year.

ULTA combines cosmetics, hair care, fragrance and skin care under one roof.

There are about 200 ULTA stores in 26 states. The company says it plans to open about 50 locations per year. It favors shopping centers that reflect its ambiance: attractive, convenient and hassle-free.

Uniqlo is an apparel concept from Japan’s “Fast Retailing.” Uniqlo offers a variety of styles in T-shirts, sweaters, denim and cashmere, in keeping with its objective of providing “casual wear that can be worn by anyone, any day.”

There are some 760 Uniqlo stores throughout Japan, China, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States. The company opened its first U.S. store in September 2005 and has five here.

WineStyles, founded in 2004, is expanding along with wine’s growing popularity in America. U.S. wine consumption grew from 466 million gallons in 1991 to 703 million gallons in 2005, according to the Wine Institute, an association of nearly 900 California wineries.

That represents a sales increase during that time frame from $10.9 billion to $26 billion.

WineStyles plans to have about 140 stores by the middle of this year.

Multi-unit franchising

The expansion of multi-unit franchisee operations is behind much of today’s franchise industry growth, with nearly half of all franchised units being controlled by such operators, according to IFA Educational Foundation-FRANdata research, Profile of Franchising,

About 82 percent of all franchisees are single-unit operators. They control 51 percent of all franchise units. Another 15 percent of all franchisees own between two and five units and control 24 percent of all franchise units.

Most significantly, 3 percent of all franchisees own more than five units, but they control 24 percent of all franchise units. Combined, 18 percent of all franchisees control nearly 50 percent of all units.

Traditionally, a multi-unit franchisee signed an agreement or series of agreements that allowed it to own more than one unit of the same brand.

Fast-food and restaurants have the highest concentrations of multi-unit franchisees. However, the majority of industries have multi-unit franchisee concentrations above 15 percent and overall the number of multi-unit franchisees is growing in all industries.

Between 11 percent and 15 percent of all multi-unit franchisees operate units across unaffiliated brands. At the extreme are companies like HMSHost, which operates hundreds of brands.

Grand prize winner in ‘Firedog Across America’

Chickahominy Volunteer Fire Department Station 10 of Ashland, Va., won the grand prize in Circuit City’s “Firedog Across America” essay contest.

The department received more than $140,000. That includes the grand prize ($100,000), a finalist award ($20,000) plus the shared prize pool generated by an online voting competition.

Mechanicsville resident Winnie Southworth nominated Station 10 for helping her son Mark, who has Down syndrome, recognize his lifelong dream of becoming a firefighter.

“They, as all firemen, risk their lives because they value mankind,” Southworth wrote in her winning essay. “In return, they have a brotherhood that few of us will experience in this life. This is the gift they share with our son. This is the gift that has made them my heroes.”

The campaign awarded more than $700,000 in recognition of community service above and beyond the call of duty.

Results of the 100,669 votes cast in the online voting competition can be found at web.firedog.com/acrossamerica. Each of the 10 finalists also received an additional $20,000 to purchase equipment.

Shoe department granted own ZIP code

Saks Fifth Avenue plans to open a shoe department so big it has been granted its own ZIP code.

Under the name 10022-SHOE, covering the entire eighth floor of its Manhattan store, the department is scheduled to open in September.

Joan Johnson covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.