Retailer roundup

New York — The international architectural design team of New York-based Brennan Beer Gorman/Architects (BBG) was selected by Cincinnati-based Federated Department Stores Inc. to design the first Macy's outside U.S. borders. Federated's first international store, the 260,000-sq.-ft., three-story anchor store is located at the Plaza Las Americas mall in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“The new Macy's has been designed in the style of old San Juan's Spanish colonial and neoclassical architecture,” says BBG partner-in-charge Mario LaGuardia. Taking cues from the island's historic buildings, Macy's exterior features a pastel-colored, stucco-like building material. The main entrance is defined by arching, double-height, back-lit windows and Juliette balconies. In case of a natural disaster, this store meets U.S. mainland seismic and hurricane standards that actually exceed San Juan's current codes.

Oak Brook, Ill. — Locally based Ace Hardware Corp. has signed an agreement with Osaka, Japan-based Sunstar Engineering to build and develop the hardware chain throughout Japan. This is the first retail venture for Sunstar, a manufacturer and distributor of construction materials and adhesives. The Ace/Sunstar team is currently discussing the number of stores to be developed and their locations. The first store is online for mid-2001. Other international Ace locations include Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Malaysia, while outlets are scheduled to open by October in Singapore, Hong Kong and China.

Warrendale, Pa. — Area-based American Eagle Outfitters, a specialty retailer of all-American men's and women's casual apparel, accessories and footwear, has entered the Canadian market. The company has acquired Thriftys/Bluenotes, Braemar and National Logistics Services from Dylex Limited of Canada. This lifestyle retailer is converting 47 Braemar stores to AE stores and will continue to operate the 116 Thriftys/Bluenotes stores. Mickey Maklin has been appointed president of Thriftys/Bluenotes and Lori Tisi to president of AE Canada.

Paris — France-based Yves Saint Laurent Couture, a division of the Gucci Group N.V., has allowed its Japanese franchisee to take over all rights to the Japanese market in hopes of developing its brand in Asia. Future plans include opening directly operated stores in Tokyo, Osaka, Sapparo and Fukuoko. With this transaction completed, the total number of directly operated stores worldwide has increased from 15 (December 1999) to 30 (December 2000.) Store openings scheduled for 2001 include locations in Costa Mesa, Calif., and Hong Kong.

Tech trends

Australia — Studies by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that although Internet usage by Australians increased from 23% of households in 1999 to 34% in 2000, the number of Aussie web users purchasing online crawled from 5% to 6%. These stats were identified as a leading Internet superstore, Buy.com, abruptly folded. The company regards Australia as a “difficult capital market environment.” Buy.com says it sees “a greater opportunity for its domestic (U.S.) business.”

According to TechWeb News, Australia's National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE) believes that at first the deterrent was the expense of computer equipment, software, hardware, etc. Now, it believes the reluctance to make Internet purchases is tied to security and confidentiality issues.