Belk Flagship Push Leads to Remodel in Charleston

The retailer will spend $10.2 million to double the size of its store in the Mt. Pleasant Town Centre during a two-phase expansion.

Belk Inc., moving forward to pump up its network of flagships, will spend $10.2 million to remodel and expand its store in the Mt. Pleasant Town Centre in Charleston, S.C.

This story first appeared in the March 22, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“I love the Charleston market and its sense of style,” said Tim Belk, chairman and chief executive officer. “The resident base and the strong tourist market are a powerful combination. We feel this market is a good candidate for a flagship store.”

The store is 82,000 square feet in size, but after a two-phase expansion will grow to 140,000 square feet, qualifying it as a flagship. In phase one, Belk will take over a former Earth Fare site to create a new men’s store scheduled to open in November.

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In phase two, to be completed by October 2014, the existing Belk site will be remodeled and expanded by 30,000 square feet for a stronger assortment of premium brands, increased amenities and redesigned selling spaces, fitting rooms, restrooms and seating areas. A parking deck for additional traffic will be created.

The shoe department will double in size, and will feature new brands such as Isaac Mizrahi and Via Spiga, with expanded assortments from Frye, Ugg, Sam Edelman and Donald J. Pliner. The cosmetics area will reflect an “open sell” environment with new premium brands, including Jo Malone, La Mer, Laura Mercier, Chanel, MAC Cosmetics and Bobbi Brown. Women’s apparel will grow significantly with larger assortments from Lilly Pulitzer, Eileen Fisher, Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors, as well as new offerings from French Connection, BCBG, Paige, Seven and Free People. Belk said the transformation will better represent Belk’s marketing mantra, “Modern. Southern. Style.”

The 125-year-old Charlotte, N.C.-based Belk has a master plan to grow sales from $3.8 billion last year to $6 billion within five years. The company has become capital-intensive, investing $600 million over five years, from fiscal 2012 forward, in key initiatives to drive the business.

A total of $140 million over the next five years has been earmarked to convert up to 15 stores into flagships through enlargements, remodels or enhanced assortments of “premium” brands, or some combination thereof, and also enhance existing flagships. Belk currently has 15 flagships in its major markets, including Atlanta; Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C., and Birmingham, Ala., and could ultimately have 30. Two flagships, in Dallas and Huntsville, Ala., will open in 2014.