Shopping Centers Today

APR 2015

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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hen retailers such as abercrombie & Fitch, american eagle outfitters, express, Gap, J.crew or new York & com- pany convert full-price stores into factory outlet concepts, is that a desperation move, a savvy strategy or something in between? among retail experts, perspec- tives on the question vary. nonetheless, they say, certain chains clearly are more interested in "going outlet" with some of their full-price stores these days, par- ticularly at 'b' and 'c' malls in secondary and tertiary markets. "We had abercrombie do that in one of our malls, a tier-two mall, a few years ago, and sales have improved," said stephen D. lebovitz, president and chief executive officer of cbl & associ- ates Properties, on a fourth-quarter earnings call. J.crew, too, is converting some of its mall stores into outlets, he noted. chains are testing such conversions in markets where they believe their prices are too high compared to those of their competitors, lebovitz said. "the J.crew store at cbl's hamilton Place mall in chattanooga is a factory store, and it's doing really well," he said. in a call to analysts last December, michael Weiss, then ceo of express (he retired this past January), said express is mulling the benefits of transforming more of its mainline stores into out- lets. the chain launched its express Factory outlet division last april with a store at tanger out- lets national harbor, in Washington, D.c. the chain has focused hard on outlet growth, and the division was reportedly on track to post $60 million in sales its first year of operation, or more than double the company's projections. (express declined an interview request for this article.) a couple of years ago, simon's towne West square mall, in Wichita, Kan., lost its full- price sears store. this month, however, sears hometown and outlet stores is set to open a 10,000-square-foot store at the mall. the concept gives consumers access to sears hometown W stranGe beDFelloWs can full-price stores and outlets coexist in the same mall? By Joel Groover a p r i l 2 0 1 5 / S C T 63

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