NEW YORK — Cushman & Wakefield and Envirosell said Friday they have formed a partnership intended to create a comprehensive menu of services for retail and real estate clients.
Envirosell will draw on Cushman’s research and consulting capabilities, and Cushman’s Retail Consulting group will tap Envirosell’s real estate and shopping behavior analysis, which includes point-of-sale issues relating to layout, merchandising, human traffic flow and operations.
“We have the ability to see what’s happening on the sales floor itself,” said Paco Underhill, founder, chief executive officer and president of Envirosell. “We can see whether it’s flawed, whether it’s fixable or whether it’s terminal.”
Envirosell was missing the ability to analyze a merchant’s real estate holdings, Underhill said. “If I’m Eddie Lampert [chairman of Sears Holdings], I’m looking at all the buildings and land” occupied by Sears and Kmart. “If I’m Blockbuster looking at Circuit City, there are certain aspects of Circuit City’s real estate portfolio that are very unique.”
Matt Winn, managing director of Cushman’s Retail Consulting group, said the partnership is well timed. With economic conditions showing no sign of improving soon, retailers are eager to better understand consumer behavior and develop strategies for maximizing sales.
“We have meetings with mall owners who want to reposition their holdings that aren’t doing that well,” Winn said. “We can look at the data, demographics, tenant mix and rent structure. We can also work with Paco and his team and look at the physical improvements — for example, what’s the layout of the mall and are there nontraditional uses for the space?”
Underhill believes the anchor concept has to be rethought. “The model of the North American shopping mall that started in the Eighties, where we looked at department stores as traffic drivers, is one a lot of people legitimately question in 2008,” he said. “We’re asking ourselves what department stores can do to better use the real estate they have and maximize their profits other than discounting.”
Winn said vendors are becoming disillusioned with department stores. “I was with a manufacturer yesterday and they were talking about pulling out of every department store in the U.S. and opening their own stores,” he said. “They wanted full control over their brand image.”
Citing the troubled economy, Underhill said: “The U.S. market is so big and so difficult, many of the most successful global fashion chains” are doing business here only halfheartedly. Zara and Mango have opened token stores in the U.S. “The reason they haven’t expanded here is because business is easier elsewhere.”