Shopping Centers Today

MAR 2017

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

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24 S C T / M A R C H 2 0 1 7 Sweet diplomacy S T O R E F R O N T S La Fête Chocolat exports Chilean treats with a French name to the U.S. By María Bird Picó S ince December La Fête Chocolat has been sweetening the retail mix at Atlanta's Lenox Square mall, the first step in a planned U.S. expansion for this Chilean high-end chocolatier. The U.S. is the world's ninth-biggest consumer of chocolate, according to Euromonitor International (Switzerland is first). The 9.5 pounds per person that Americans eat yearly is about three times the amount Chileans consume — as good a reason as any to expand here. The Atlanta La Fête Chocolat store has been well received by shoppers at Lenox Square, which is "consistently adding impressive new brands" to its tenant mix, says Carol Cox, area director of marketing and business development for Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, both of which are Simon-owned. "The addition of the Chile-based company has expanded the merchant mix and allows customers to discover something new upon their next visit," Cox said. The family-owned chain operates 35 stores in Chile, where it began life in 2006 with a small factory and two shops. Today the company employs nearly 400 and is projecting that this year's sales will reach $25 million, up by 12 percent from last year. All the stores are company-owned. The target customer is a 35-year-old woman in the middle-to-high-income range, and each customer spends, on average, about $25 per visit. "We want to control the purchasing experience and have that as one of the main attractions of our brand," said founder and owner Jorge Mckay. "Our goal is to be the best high-end chocolate brand, and everything we do goes into that direction, obviously starting with the quality of our assortment." The company attributes its success to a "vast, complex and attractive" assortment and an ongoing evolution. Among the best-selling selections: Petit Delice Caviar (consisting of crunchy The high-end chocolate retailer is looking to open about two dozen shops in the next five years cereal coated with bitter chocolate) and La Conquête (a variety of its most popular sweets in the brand's well-known round box). Chocolate cookies and sugar-free chocolates are on offer too. The retailer looks for 800-square- foot spaces in high-end fashion malls and lifestyle centers. The Lenox Square shop is but the first of roughly two dozen stores the company hopes to open over the next five years. "The U.S. is a very complex and challenging market," said Mckay. "Every state offers unique a nd provocative differences." n Leasing inquiries may be directed to Jorge Mckay, owner, at jmckay@lafetechocolat.com.

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