The battle for luxury brands is heating up in Northern New Jersey, where Westfield Garden State Plaza, The Shops at Riverside and American Dream – which won’t open until 2017 – are fighting for trophy high-end labels.

Garden State Plaza in Paramus in the last month has added five tenants to its luxury district: Burberry, Ferragamo, Hugo Boss, Longchamp and Versace.

The district, which is anchored by Neiman Marcus, has a dedicated valet and lounge where shoppers can check their coats or make reservations through the concierge. “It’s similar to a hotel lobby experience,” said Bryan Gaus, senior general manager at Westfield. In close proximity to Neiman’s are existing luxury tenants Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tag Heuer and Tiffany & Co.

The center added to the district a 20,000-square-foot Pirch, selling high-end home decor, and plans to unveil Design Within Reach in 2016.

The Shops at Riverside, about 6.5 miles south of Garden State Plaza in Hackensack, plans to expand its luxury lineup in the wake of defections by Saks Fifth Avenue and Hermès, which signed leases at American Dream, a 3 million-square-foot shopping-cum-entertainment center under construction in the New Jersey Meadowlands.

“The demand in Bergen County is certainly there for a luxury offering,” Gaus said. “Luxury is a very high commodity. We’re always looking for an opportunity to expand the luxury offering and there’s certainly room for more.”

The area’s strong demographics – a median household income of $100,310, compared with the national median of $51,939 – continue to attract retailers to Bergen County.

Ferragamo said it will continue to operate its existing unit at the Shops. The company has developed products exclusively for the Garden State Plaza store, including a mini Fiamma handbag in black crocodile and mink fur for $9,800.

“The Salvatore Ferragamo customer in the New York metropolitan area makes up a sophisticated and style conscious clientele base,” said Vincent Ottomanelli, chief executive officer and regional director of Ferragamo USA. “Debuting a new location at the Garden State Plaza allows us to better serve the community as we continue to offer added convenience and unique merchandising designed to compliment, not replace, our Shops at Riverside boutique.”

Both Versace and Longchamp are new to the Northern New Jersey market. Hugo Boss and Burberry operate stores at The Shops. Gaus said the Hugo Boss unit at Garden State Plaza is an expansion. Burberry couldn’t be reached.

Westfield converted Victoria’s Secret and Pink into space for the new tenants. “We worked with L Brands to relocate their brands to another district that’s more appropriate for them and used that square footage to create this luxury district,” Gaus said. “Our aspiration is to achieve $1,000 per square foot. I can assure you the luxury district will achieve that number.”

Simon Property Group, which operates the Shops, is repurposing the former Saks space for two new restaurants, a cafe and a 40,000-square foot movie theater. According to sources, Simon is targeting Chanel, Saint Laurent, Chloé, Dior and Jimmy Choo, among others, for a section called The Collection at Riverside, which will ultimately house about 25 luxury brands.

The Shops, which reportedly does $800 a square foot in annual sales, expects to do well over $1,000 a square foot once the Collection opens. Bloomingdale’s, the remaining anchor at The Shops at Riverside, does about $90 million in annual sales, according to sources.

In addition to building out the luxury district, Westfield is planning to expand Garden State Plaza’s dining options next year. “As leases turn we are being very strategic about looking at what the consumer needs,” Gaus said.”We’re continuously investing and reinvesting in this asset.”

 

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