By  on April 27, 2010

LAS VEGAS — Taubman Centers Inc. chief operating officer William Taubman has a message for forecasters who predicted the demise of malls and luxury brands — better think again.

“The American mall remains hands down the most dominant distribution model of fashion-oriented merchandise in this nation,” Taubman said Monday at American Express Publishing’s two-day 2010 Luxury Summit here. “I believe the mall is alive, thankfully. Luxury is alive.”

Citing a rebound from the depths of the recession, Taubman pointed to Taubman Center’s first-quarter earnings report, which showed sales per square foot for tenants across its 26 properties rose 10.8 percent. In addition, he pointed to deals bringing luxury retailers to Taubman malls, such as Prada taking space in Los Angeles’ Beverly Center.

Taubman was among the speakers and panelists who focused on the state of the luxury market in the midst of economic volatility.

“We never believed in the death of luxury,” Taubman said of his Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based company, whose properties include the Crystals at CityCenter in Las Vegas and The Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey. “People want to differentiate themselves and want to feel good about themselves, and luxury products and experiences make our customers feel special.”

Taubman singled out the Crystals as evidence that luxury brands can lure today’s shoppers. The 500,000-square-project unveiled in December is occupied by brands such as Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, Fendi and Hermès, and will see another spate of openings this summer and fall that include Prada, Christian Dior and Gucci.

“Crystals is the preeminent luxury shopping destination in Las Vegas because we stuck to our vision.…We never wavered in terms of lowering the price point,” he said. “That persistence has paid off in strong initial sales.”

Taubman acknowledged that luxury brands should adjust to meet recession-altered shopping habits. “The customer also wants to see a range of price points at luxury stores, but they remain loyal to the brands they want to believe in,” he said. “They don’t want to trade down.”

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