Real Estate

Sea Bags Sails Through Uncertain Times

Sea Bags Sails Through Uncertain Times

Sailing season is in full swing and accessories brand Sea Bags is reining in the benefits.

Sea Bags makes bags and other accessories from recycled sails.

Courtesy Photo

In fact, despite continued inflationary pressures that have caused many consumers to rethink their spending habits, the Portland, Maine-based brand — which makes handmade, sustainable bags and other home decor, such as outdoor pillows and doormats from recycled sails — has grown during the pandemic. 
In the last 12 months, Sea Bags revenues have grown by more than 60 percent — 97 percent in the last three years. The business has also increased its store footprint by approximately 50 percent since 2020, today counting 45 brick-and-mortar locations in its fleet, up from 20 in 2019 and in new markets, including Michigan, Florida and California; increased its pre-pandemic workforce of 150 people to more than 200, and doubled the size of its Maine-based manufacturing space from 15,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet. Sea Bags has also collaborated with Vera Bradley, Life Is Good, Mount Gay Rum and Vineyard Vines, among others. In addition, Sea Bags launched a new website in late 2020 for a more user-friendly experience with increased speed and added traffic capacity. 

Related Galleries

Sea Bags makes handmade bags from recycled sails.

Courtesy Photo

“This is a very exciting time for Sea Bags,” said Don Oakes, Sea Bags’ chief executive officer. 
It’s also a sizable expansion for an accessible luxury brand that sells handbags priced north of $200 each, discretionary items that are normally the first thing consumers pass on during uncertain times. 

Inside Sea Bags’ Portland, Maine, flagship.

Courtesy Photo

But Oakes said the combination of increased brand awareness from the growing store fleet and long-lasting products has helped the company weather the storm. 
“Our store locations and unique products have allowed us to prosper during these challenging times,” the CEO told WWD, explaining that pandemic-related real estate deals allowed the business to open more stores than originally planned, and many times in markets that were previously unaffordable. “Over the years, we’ve learned that the best way to understand our brand and to experience our product is in person, and that’s why stores have become our largest channel. We anticipate the current economic environment will present opportunities for future growth and retail expansion, as was the case in 2020.”
“Our core message on sustainability also seems to be resonating with more and more people as awareness of the importance of recycling and reuse continues to increase, as well as the public’s renewed emphasis on buying goods like ours that are made in the U.S.,” Oakes added. 

Handmade bags from Sea Bags.

Courtesy Photo

Also, since the company is based in Maine and all products are made in the U.S., Oakes said the company has not had to deal with ongoing supply chain challenges. 

All Sea Bags are handmade in Maine.

Courtesy Photo

“Sea Bags was founded on the mission of creating and keeping jobs in the U.S. as well as saving sails from landfills,” he explained. “Most years our growth has only been limited by our ability to increase production. After the incredible growth we experienced [in 2021], we’ve been putting together plans to double our output in the next few years. We always say that our supply chain is Maine first, New England second, the U.S. third, and it stops there.”  

Sea Bags was started by Hannah Kubiak, who in 1999 was living aboard her father’s sailboat in Maine. As a hobby, Kubiak started making bags from recycled sail cloth. Since Kubiak was sewing the bags by hand, she could only produce about 40 a year.
But her bags managed to catch the attention of Beth Shissler, who began buying them in bulk and reselling them at her mother’s gift shop. In 2006, the duo decided to partner and Sea Bags the business was born.

Sea Bags are made from recycled sails.

Courtesy Photo

“We’re in locations where people like to visit and vacation,” Oakes said. “So it’s a great time to be introduced to our brand and discover our products. Every one of our products are unique and no two are exactly alike.”

Lululemon Is Moving to Spain

Lululemon Is Moving to Spain

Lululemon is moving to Spain. On Tuesday, the Canadian athletic apparel, accessories and retailer revealed plans to open two stores in Spain this fall, as well as a Spanish e-commerce site this summer. The move marks the company’s first European expansion since pre-pandemic times in 2019. 

Lululemon expanded its assortment to include a hike collection in June.
Courtesy Photo ASATO iiDA

​​“As a brand [that] supports wellbeing, Lululemon has a strong synergy with the active, balanced lifestyle enjoyed in Spain,” said André Maestrini, executive vice president, international. “We’re looking forward to connecting with Spanish guests through our website and at our first retail stores opening in Madrid and Barcelona. The strength of our model across product innovation, guest experience, community and culture provides a unique advantage as we introduce Lululemon to our newest market.”

Related Galleries

The e-commerce site lululemon.es will launch later this month, followed by two stores — one in Madrid and one in Barcelona — in September. Lululemon has nearly 40 stores across eight countries in Europe: France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K. Internationally, the retailer has 579 stores. 

Lululemon unveiled its first collection of sneakers in March.
Courtesy Photo Jenna Saint Martin

Meanwhile, Lululemon continues to grow, improving on top and bottom lines in the most recent quarter, despite industrywide headwinds. In April, the retailer set its sights on a $12.5 billion revenue target by 2026. At the time, company executives said it also had plans to open new stores in Thailand and Italy within the next 12 months. In addition, a second experiential store will open in Houston later this year. 
The firm is also deep in product expansion mode, releasing women’s sneakers; workout hijabs; hiking, golf and tennis apparel; bags made from mushrooms; resale, and at-home fitness, all during the pandemic. Lululemon is also the official outfitter of Team Canada (a role it will retain through 2028).
“We’re in the early innings of growth,” Calvin McDonald, Lululemon’s chief executive officer, told analysts in April.

Miami’s Brickell City Centre Finesses Its Retail Mix

Miami’s Brickell City Centre Finesses Its Retail Mix

The Shops at Brickell City Centre in Miami is bringing in a fresh group of brands, restaurants and experiences, and moving past pandemic declines and some tenant turnover.A 5,000-square-foot Nike Live concept store launches toward the end of the summer. Sunglass Hut and Warby Parker are expected to open before the end of this year. Psycho Bunny men’s fashion is opening within a few weeks, and last week, Azulu, a fashion brand from Columbia, Ohio, opened shop.
Also coming to Miami’s downtown mixed-used complex: Puttshack, billed as “the world’s only upscale tech-infused” mini-golf course, and on the food and beverage side, New York’s Black Tap Burger; The Henry restaurant; Miu’s Tea for Taiwanese bubble tea, and Café Americano.

Marciano, Intimissimi, Solid and Striped, and Rebag, as well as a San Francisco-based preventative health care start-up called Forward Health, are among recent additions to the Brickell City Centre mall.

Related Galleries

Officials at Swire Properties, developer of the $1.05 billion, 4.9-million-square-foot Brickell City Centre, told WWD that its 500,000-square-foot mall component is now 98 percent leased and on solid footing, after the five-year-old mixed-use complex experienced some growth pains and pandemic-related challenges.
“Retail turnover is part of a natural evolution any mall goes through,” David Martin, vice president of Swire Properties, said in an interview. “Very rarely does anyone get it completely right from Day One. When you put a mall out there you see who it attracts and you get to know your customers. We have a great mix of customers, and a strong local market. There is new condo development, thousands of units have been going up, and that density is only going to increase. We are two blocks from Brickell Avenue, the CBD (central business district) of Miami. And we have a captive office crowd. Occupancy rates are back up, but not quite all the way yet,” to pre-COVID-19 levels.
The three-level Shops at Brickell City Centre also draws international customers, particularly from Latin and South America, though the numbers vary with currency fluctuations and were brought down by the pandemic.
“We have a young customer, 40 percent are between 20 and 35,” Martin said. A lot of the new stores, such as Psycho Bunny, target younger audiences, he added.

The Shops at Brickell City Centre, with its environmental trellis overhead.

Overall, the mix of fashion offerings and prices is eclectic and includes Saks Fifth Avenue, the anchor tenant; a Chanel fragrance and beauty shop; Kiton; Lafayette 148 New York; Lululemon; Victoria’s Secret, and Zara, to name a few tenants.
According to Martin, whose primary responsibility is leasing the project, Miami fared better than other major U.S. cities during the pandemic, in terms of visitors. “Domestic tourists who weren’t able to travel to New York or California opted to visit Florida and Miami. The big advantage was after the lockdown period in 2020, Miami’s reopening was progressive and didn’t reverse. Markets like New York and California flip flopped,” with changing and sometimes confusing protocols, mandates and restrictions designed to curtail COVID-19 infection rates. “Florida and Miami never reversed opening up. That helped businesses enormously,” Martin said.

Tourists, he said, could book trips with confidence that they wouldn’t have to cancel, and businesses regarded Miami as a “consistent and improving market.” That helped Martin find retail tenants and arrange leases.
Still, Florida at times during 2020 and 2021 was a hot spot for new COVID-19 cases and regarded by some as being lax on implementing health protocols. That seems behind Florida and most of the rest of the U.S. this spring, with the rate of COVID-19 cases falling way down with the exception of a few areas where upticks have been reported. A new variant of the Omicron variant is causing concern among officials, however, that a renewed outbreak could happen soon, as is being seen in some European countries.
As an open-air shopping center, The Shops at Brickell City Centre would be regarded as less risky to visit during the pandemic than enclosed malls because of the difference in air circulation, which could limit the spread of COVID-19. Generally, open-air, strip and outlet centers drew greater shopper traffic than enclosed malls during the pandemic.
“I was in Miami the whole time of the pandemic. People have the impression Florida never locked down, but there was a strict and well-observed lockdown in March, April and May of 2020. It was quiet for three months. People were not out. I don’t think Miami necessarily opened up earlier than anywhere else, though the difference was the reopening in Miami was progressive,” without fits and starts, Martin added.
With Brickell City Centre’s influx of new stores and restaurants, the mall is 98 percent leased, according to Swire.
“Having closed out 2021 with The Shops at Brickell City Centre 98 percent leased, this new and improved mix of tenants will be an exciting point of difference,” Teri Hernandez, general manager of The Shops at BCC, said in a statement.
Nike Live, the brand’s new concept based on providing locally relevant experiences and personal service and leveraging technology and digital capabilities, is moving into space previously occupied by Emporio Armani; Psycho Bunny replaces a Nest high-end home store; Warby Parker is filling the former Stuart Weitzman space, while Sunglass Hut fills the former Alex and Ani jewelry shop.

Among Brickell City Centre’s most unique feature is its $30 million, three-block long, elevated glass and steel trellis called the Climate Ribbon, which protects visitors from sun and rain. It cools the environment and collects rain water that gets recycled for irrigation and other uses. Due to the construction, the light in the center changes constantly as the day progresses and the position of the sun, in relation to Earth, shifts.
Another unique element is the Metromover station right at Brickell City Centre. Metromover is a free train service that operates seven days a week in the downtown Miami and Brickell area, taking people to the FTX Arena, where the Miami Heat basketball team plays, Bayside Marketplace and Miami Dade College. Also, the Metro Rail line stops two blocks away.
“The biggest thing is really how we are fitting into the neighborhood. Above the mall, there are two office buildings, two condo towers and the East, Miami Hotel. It’s all linked and sitting above the retail and parking. This is a true mixed-use development. It’s become very much the center for the Brickell neighborhood. Brickell was missing a significant retail presence. We really filled that gap,” Martin said.
Last year, sales were up 121 percent compared to 2019, and foot traffic was up 11 percent, he said. “We’re celebrating Brickell City Centre’s fifth anniversary by becoming better suited to serve longtime locals, newer Miami residents and our national and international visitors alike — all under the same umbrella.” Gains would be attributed to finessing the mix of retail tenants, the waning of the pandemic, people anxious to get out and shop and refresh their wardrobes after living a stay-at-home lifestyle for too long, and others just discovering the mall for the first time.

Brickell City Centre in downtown Miami.

Steven Tanger on His Job Transition and Evolving the Outlets

Steven Tanger on His Job Transition and Evolving the Outlets

Steven B. Tanger has his classic line: “In good times people love a bargain, and in tough times people need a bargain.”
“The quote is still true today — probably more so than when I said it 30 years ago,” Tanger said. He’s adamant about the relevance of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc., and how it’s up to the challenges posed by rising online shopping and the pandemic.
“Our traffic is back to about 90 percent of where it was a year ago,” Tanger said in his measured and assured manner. “People probably are tired of dressing from the keyboard up and want to buy a new pair of shoes or a handbag. There’s tremendous pent up demand to go out to shop and the outlets offer a unique distribution channel where you can buy direct from the manufacturer, unlike other channels.”

Last month, Tanger transitioned to executive chair of the board of directors of Tanger Outlets, after serving as chief executive officer for 12 years and presiding over the company’s most aggressive growth period from 2009 to 2016, when 12 outlet centers were opened. Still, he’s kept the expansion in check — and managed conservatively — with a handful of property dispositions and joint ventures, and achieving consistent occupancy rates in the mid-90 percent range. He’s widely recognized as the standard bearer of the outlet industry.

Related Gallery

“This is the next step in my journey at Tanger. It’s not retirement. I’ve been at the company for close for 37 years — the last 12 as CEO,” said the 71-year-old Tanger during an interview. “I have a contract to be the executive chairman for another three years and at that point I will discuss with the the board what my ongoing relationship will be.
“As executive chair, my job is to work with Steve Yalof, our new CEO, to help him as an adviser. Steve and I have been friends for over 30 years. We’ve worked side-by-side for the past nine months, during the transition. Part of my job will be to work with Steve and the board, to free Steve up to focus on operating the business, and I will work together with Steve to make presentations and communicate to the board. The board and management approve strategic decisions,” such as last month’s decision to reinstate the dividend.
“Steve is developing a long-term strategic plan,” Tanger said, and leading efforts toward “a digital transformation of our marketing focus and transforming the company to a field-based operation where general managers and marketing directors act as individual ceos of the center. A holistic review of every department from leasing to IT is underway. It’s a broad-based overview,” Tanger said.
Steve Tanger 

Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. operates and owns or has an ownership interest in 37 outlet centers in 20 states and in Canada, totaling 13.7 million square feet. The company was founded in 1981 by Tanger’s father, the late Stanley Tanger, when he opened a cluster of factory outlets in a strip shopping center in Burlington, N.C. In 1984, Steven joined the company as its fourth employee. Steven assumed the CEO reins from his father in 2009, after a series of positions of escalating responsibilities over the years.
“The most memorable time of my career is the day my father and I stood on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on May 29, 1993, and the first trade of our stock, with symbol SKT, crossed the tape. It was a lifetime dream to have a company we started listed on the stock exchange. To see that dream become a reality and share that with my father is something I will never forget.”

Tanger, a real estate investment trust based in Greensboro, N.C., remains the nation’s only publicly held, pure-play outlet center company. “Although it’s been tempting over the past 30 years to allow certain trends in, we have remained exclusively focused on brand-name outlets. We don’t sell cheap products or cheap prices. Our environment is open-air, customer-friendly and beautiful.
“Instinctively people feel safer in our centers. It’s been that way both before and after COVID-19. People want to be where there is lots of room to breath and fresh air. We remain comfortable with the business model and we have no intention to change it.”
Three years ago, Tanger told WWD that brick-and-mortar retailing would not be swallowed up by the internet, though it’s taken a big chunk out of it. Asked if he’s changed his outlook, he replied, “Each has its place. It is easy to purchase commodities online and let’s be clear (at Tanger) we sell fashion items, with sizes, colors, and everybody has a different body shape and coloration. People like the tactile experience of feeling the fabric. We deal in the fashion end of online sales, with things that are discretionary, basically. We don’t sell commodities like paper towels, bottled water or wine, things that during the stay-at-home order and afterwards people have found very convenient to buy online.
“Brick-and-mortar stores have done all kinds of studies to show how much they help the finest brand names maintain their position in the market. People can start their fashion search online and come to a Tanger center for what they want and try it on. Then they know it fits. They know they like it, and can bring it right home with them.”
Nevertheless, he sees the Tanger portfolio evolving, embracing omnichannel capabilities and extending the scope of the product offerings in the outlets.
“During the mandated stay-at-home periods, we decided not to furlough or lay off any of our employees. We kept our centers open as best we could, but we put up a Tanger virtual shopping program where our customer service people in the centers went to the stores, shopped for customers, then shipped the items to them. That was a great bridge to keep Tanger involved with our millions of consumers while they were not leaving their homes. Now we are looking at that as part of our digital transformation program. It’s one of Steve’s strategic initiatives.
“We are looking at new and and exciting uses for parts of our properties. We’re talking to unique, smaller local grocers to enhance our presentation to consumers. We are talking to various beauty suppliers, home goods, jewelers, all different products we could sell to consumers that might not have previously been available in our apparel-focused outlet centers.”
Tanger also said some of the centers have excess land that could be developed into restaurants, ideally unique, local restaurants, not necessarily national chains. In Tanger Outlets Sevierville, in Tennessee, for example, “We opened a Smith Creek Moonshine tasting store. It’s those type of uses that make us unique.”
In addition, “We are working hard to develop programs to enhance our Tanger VIP loyalty program, to provide extra incentives and advantages to VIPS for coming to shop with us.
“Outlets started as a clearance vehicle for excess merchandise but due to the consumer loving to buy direct and loving the value, that excess was used up quickly,” Tanger said. “That led to brands manufacturing specifically for the outlets to maintain full assortments and discovering that the outlets often became the most profitable part of the brand’s business.” He added that the amount of clearance merchandise versus what’s made specifically for the outlet, varies greatly depending on the brand, anywhere from 5 to 95 percent.
Though the outlet product is less expensive and typically made with different fabrics, “the product produced is virtually all made in the same factories,” Tanger said. “The thing that does not change is the name and the label. The CEOs of every brand we work with tell me their number-one job is to protect and enhance their brand. They are not going to jeopardize their brand for any product in any distribution channel.”
He’s long maintained that the his outlets are not competing on price, though the lowest advertised prices are guaranteed. “We are selling brand name products direct to the consumers. We do not sell generic products at the cheapest price,” Tanger said. “It’s a unique experience, people like the fact we have anywhere in the range of 150 different brand names in each center. They’re open air centers and you can pull your car up very close to the brand name or designer store. Most of our properties go from New England down through Texas — there’s one outside of Phoenix — and most are in warmer climates, near resort communities, such as Tanger Riverhead, N.Y, on Long Island, which is the company’s second-largest center at 729,706 square feet, and among most productive. It draws a large Hamptons audience. Tanger Deer Park, also on Long Island, is the largest center in the portfolio with 749,074 square feet, and among the most productive Tanger properties. About half of the properties are in the 200,000 to 400,000-square-foot range.”
Tanger maintains “a shadow pipeline” of sites that could at some point be developed. “There are several sites in our shadow pipeline either underserved or do not have an outlet center,” Tanger said. “We have identified one in Nashville. At the right time we intend to develop that site. Nashville is a growing, exciting market.
“I believe outlets have an opportunity to continue to grow. We are a small percentage of the shopping center industry but a growing percentage.”
Tanger Outlets in Charleston, N.C. 

PHP Code Snippets Powered By : XYZScripts.com