Design

Vienna, Austria Putzi Beteiligungs und Handelsgesellschaft mbH, a locally based holding operations conglomerate, signed a licensing agreement with Los Angeles-based GameWorks for the franchise rights to the entertainment firm's first European site. GameWorks Vienna, the corporation's first three-level venue, will occupy 29,000 sq. ft. on Mariahferstrasse, Vienna's famous shopping street. In addition to the company's usual attractions and games, the center will include Jax Grill restaurant and Hopscotch Lounge Bar. The center is slated for a grand opening this fall.

Business

Manchester, England Locally based KSS is expanding its presence in the United States with a new office. The move follows an initial showing of interest in the company's market-adaptive pricing solutions for petroleum and retail sectors, particularly grocery stores. KSS enables retailers to execute pricing strategies more effectively by forecasting the impact of price on consumer demand, product by product. The firm then recommends an optimum set of prices that meets volume and targets more profitably, while staying within the existing pricing strategy.

KSS provides its market-adaptive pricing technology to companies in the telecommunications, retail and petroleum industries by combining mathematical research with marketing variables.

Retailer roundup

Monterrey, Mexico Atlanta-based The Home Depot Inc. signed a definitive agreement to acquire for cash all four Total HOME home improvement stores from locally based ALFA S.A. de C.V. Financial terms were not disclosed. The acquisition of Total HOME gives us immediate and profitable entry into Mexico's $12.5 billion home improvement market, says Bob Nardell, president and CEO of The Home Depot.

Total HOME stores are approximately 80,000 sq. ft. in interior space not including exterior space for lawn and garden and building materials and serve homeowners as well as the professional market.

Ponzano, Italy The Benetton Group, present in 120 countries around the world, is returning to the U.S. market in hopes of revitalizing its brand across the country. The new Benetton stores will have a larger format ranging from 6,000 sq. ft. to 20,000 sq. ft. They will also have a more expansive line of products and a minimalist design, say company officials. The retailer plans to open three stores in Manhattan this fall and is looking at sites in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta.

The Benetton Group operates clothing brands such as United Colors of Benetton and Sisley. In the sportswear and equipment sector, the company features leading brands such as Play-life, Nordica, Prince, Rollerblade and Killer Loop.

London Tesco Plc is planning to build five new stores this year in Thailand for an estimated cost of $233.3 million. Four of the stores will be located in Bangkok, according to the BBC. The additional five locations will bring the company's Thai portfolio to 32 stores. Tesco executives say they hope to open 40 stores by the end of 2003, and invest $309 million in Asia over the next four years.

New developments

Madrid, Spain Arlington, Va.-based The Mills Corp. announced plans for its first development outside of North America, a retail and entertainment center slated for the suburbs of Madrid. The project, called Madrid Xanadu, will be a 1.2 million-sq.-ft. venue featuring 200 specialty retailers, approximately 20 anchors, including El Corte Ingles and Hipercor, and a variety of restaurant and entertainment attractions. One attraction will be The Snowdome, forecasted to be the largest indoor skiing, snowboarding and ice-skating facility in Europe at nearly 180,000 sq. ft. The estimated cost of the development is $300 million, according to Mills. Construction on the first phase is expected to begin in late summer. The project is slated for a 2003 opening.

The Mills Corp. is a self-managed REIT with a portfolio of 12 retail and entertainment destinations in 10 states. The company has five projects under construction and/or development in the United States, Canada and Spain.