Shopping Centers Today

APR 2018

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

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44 S C T / A P R I L 2 0 1 8 Howland said, "and there's no better place than RECon to connect with developers who you think have done admira- ble work in other parts of the country." Meanwhile, New Orleans officials are returning to RECon and are on a mission to correct frequent misperceptions about the city, says Quentin L. Messer Jr., CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance. A population of about 395,000 places New Orleans squarely into the midsize market cate- gory, he says, but retailers and developers oen fail to factor in the spending of some 10 million tourists who visit the Big Easy each year. Moreover, gaps in grocery chains, national dining concepts and other categories persist, despite a retail recovery from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Messer also thinks the city is ideally positioned to lever- age the retailer focus on creating customer experiences, and booth visitors can expect a taste of New Orleans with a dose lagniappe (Cajun for "a little bit extra"). e city of Moreno Valley, in California's fast-growing Inland Empire region, is returning to RECon in an effort to bolster its retail offerings. is 33-year-old city with a popula- tion of 210,000 is transitioning from a bedroom community to one that is enjoying brisk rooop and business expan- sion, says Mike Lee, director of Moreno Valley's Economic Development Department. e city's population is growing by about 5 percent annually, and restaurants in particular are zeroing in: 15 new operators opened last year, and about 20 more are in the pipeline, according to Lee. e city offers a streamlined entitlement and permitting process. "People joke around and ask us, 'Are you sure you're in California?' " said Lee. "California has its state laws, but on a local level, we do as good a job as we can to expedite development." n T he expansion-minded retail chains, restaurants and entertainment concepts that exhibit at RECon have always been the event's lifeblood, and this year is no different. Among the first-time exhibitors this year are Xponential Fitness, a private equity-backed company amassing a portfolio of fitness franchise brands; and Speed- way, the largest corporate-owned-and-operated convenience store chain east of the Mississippi. And then there are also the RECon veterans and crowd favorites, such as Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Jersey Mike's Subs, once again securing their exhibit space at the convention. All are tenants that provide consumers with an experience — an increasingly important element in the user mix, one which landlords seek fer- vently today, says Timothy McGuinness, ICSC's vice president of global trade expositions. "It may be an overused term, but we're seeing a lot of shopping center owners focus attention on the experiential type of tenants that are going to draw people to the center," he said. "It's a broad vertical segment that crosses into a number of categories, like fitness concepts with the rock-climbing walls, and restaurants with games. Food service can meet that criteria too." Xponential Fitness has launched an aggressive growth strategy to capitalize not only on the experience factor, but also on consumer and franchisee demand for boutique fitness opera- tors. Private equity behemoth TPG Capital began acquiring the independent brands last year and then launched Xponential Fitness to operate them. To date, Xponential Fitness' stable of franchises includes Club Pilates, CycleBar, Row House and StretchLab. At RECon the company hopes to generate brand recognition and make headway on finding immediate locations for 450 Club Pilates and 200 CycleBar franchises. It sees that number growing as the year progresses, and the opportunity to leverage the networking environment at RECon made the decision to exhibit a no-brainer, says Anthony Geisler, CEO of Xponential Fitness. "It's incredibly exciting to watch the brands experi- ence success, and exhibiting at RECon is a very important step for our success," he said. Visitors to the booth will get a glimpse of the studios and equipment for each brand. n Shopping center tenants anticipate making great connections at RECon | BY JOE GOSE DESIGNS ON GROWTH

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