Shopping Centers Today International

FEB 2016

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

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handicrafts. After a fire destroyed the store, Emilio reopened it in 1971 as Casa Febus. In 1975 the retailer began selling Christmas merchandise, which resulted in a doubling of sales that year, without additional advertising. By 1982 Casa Febus had opened its first mall store, in Plaza Rio Hondo Mall, Bayamón, having gradually shifted its offerings to home decor, particularly artificial flowers and plants. At its peak, between 2000 and 2005, the chain was operating 11 stores across Puerto Rico, but this number shrank along with the island's economy: To- day Casa Febus operates only three large-format stores there, including its 60,000-square-foot flagship in Bayamón. The company remains family-owned, under the stewardship of Victor, his father and two siblings. "When Puerto Rico's economy started contracting we decided to re- duce costs and not to renew mall leasing contracts," said Victor Febus, the family member quoted throughout this story. "It makes sense to invest where we can make more money, so we jumped at the opportunity of expanding to Florida, where there are not many retailers sell- ing our merchandise lines." Casa Febus stores stock some 3,500 home items, as well as indoor and out- door furniture. At Christmas the store offers its own line of seasonal mer- chandise, including pictures and or- naments with such popular Hispanic motifs as the Three Kings (the Magi who visited the infant Jesus), and poin- settias. The Christmas season is a key revenue source, of course ó the aver- age purchase rises from $100 to $150, according to Febus. Within three months of its opening, the Pembroke Pines store became the chain's No. 2 seller, after its Puerto Rico flagship, he says, though it is not just Hispanics who are buying; Febus points out that the Naples store is surrounded by relatively few Hispanic people. As part of its strategy of targeting non-His- panic and younger consumers (those be- tween 25 and 35), the U.S. stores sport a modern look, with enhanced lighting, white walls and an emphasis on simple, stylish home designs, Febus says. "We are Latinos and maintain our business core, but we have merchandise for all kinds of consumers," said Febus. "In Pem- broke, for instance, we have African-Americans that like our business concept." The chain is also try- ing to reach younger con- sumers in Puerto Rico using social media. "We are letting them know we are not anymore the store where grandma used to buy fake plants and flowers," said Febus. Casa Febus does still sell those flowers, but not as actively as before. In any case, the strat- egy appears to be paying off, with the re- tailer reporting about 150,000 followers on Facebook and some 2 million views on YouTube, where it regularly broad- casts home-decorating tips, plus use of Twitter and Instagram. The company intends to open a store in Miami this year and is also seeking opportunities in Georgia. Casa Febus' prospects on the mainland are good, because the store offers a unique home style, according to Andrew Carl- son, a JLL broker who oversees Florida and Puerto Rico for the firm. "The dec- orating touch in the styles and designs Casa Febus is bringing into Florida is something you do not necessarily see in the traditional mainstream home- design and furniture chains," said Carl- son, whom Casa Febus hired after the Florida debut to help identify new U.S. markets. "They are very unique and bring colors and neat shapes that are more European than American from a home-design perspective." Carlson cautions that Latin Ameri- can retailers aiming at the U.S. market must be clear as to their target market. "If you are aiming just at Puerto Ricans, opening in Orlando will be great for the short term but not the best idea for long-term business," he said. "If you want to expand and con- tinue to grow the stores, you then need to translate out of the Latin market into the everyday main- land market." Executives at Gen- eral Growth Properties, which owns all three Florida malls housing Casa Febus, praise the chain's aesthetics, merchandise and competitive pricing. "Casa Febus' store windows have created quite a buzz from shoppers and employees in the mall," said Glen D. Harrell, senior general manager of Coastland Center, whose shopper base is about 25 percent His- panic. "It adds a home-furnishing com- ponent to our mall's store mix that is right at home with the strong Naples residential customer." "The visual-merchandising team at Casa Febus has done an amazing job presenting professional, eye-catching and colorful displays," said Edward Newkirk, Altamonte Mall's senior gen- eral manager. "The variety of product will appeal to a wide range of consum- ers interested in adding a little spark to their home-decorating efforts." S C T For leasing, contact Vanessa Perez, r e t a i l b r o k e r a g e a s s o c i a t e a t J L L , at (813) 387-1286 or (787) 510-7577, or at 28 S C T / F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 6 r e T a i l i n g T o d a y

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