bookmark_borderAuthentic Brands, SPARC and the building wave of retail licensing

Hello from After Shopping! It’s been awhile, but the retail landscape continues to evolve.

The New York Times today went deep on Authentic Brands and SPARC, the brand-buying acquirer of bankrupt marquee names (Brooks Brothers, Barneys, Juicy Couture, Sports Illustrated). They’re broadening an already busy sector, where a brand name is simply a logo and a marketing plan, powered by organizations that design, manufacture and distribute merchandise at varying price points and levels of prestige.

What’s new is that in addition to buying and licensing the brands, Authentic is increasingly branching out into retail store operations, most notably with SPARC, a partnership between Authentic and mall owner Simon Property, which typically does not get involved in store operations.

“As David Simon says, maybe one day you’ll have your own mall,” concludes the article, which is a fascinating thought: what if you went to a mall, and every store, every brand, every product you bought ultimately was owned by the same conglomerate?

bookmark_borderWhither the shopping mall?

That’s the question asked by the New York Times, which posits that as many as one in four malls in the U.S. could close entirely as the department store anchor-tenant model teeters.

According to industry researcher Deborah Weinswig, the article says, “the malls that are able to withstand the current turmoil will be healthier — better tenants, more inviting and occupied — but … about 25 percent of the country’s nearly 1,200 malls” could close entirely.

Real estate experts see opportunity in the closing and not just dread: malls can be reinvented, as housing, offices, local markets and other concepts. But they may not be the shopping centers that defined late-twentieth-century American culture.