Hermès Taking Over Former Sears Space to Anchor L.A. Westfield Mall
The expansion and redesign of a Westfield shopping center in the Los Angeles Valley brings a big luxury boost with Hermès as the new anchor tenant.
Hermès has just rented 7,500 square feet in Westfield Topanga and has taken over a location previously occupied by Sears, a long-time anchor tenant for malls and malls across the country. This will be one of the first examples of a single luxury brand being an anchor tenant in a mall. Historically, one such tenant is a department store that is offered a high discount on a long-term lease. But such stores have become increasingly popular for several years.
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The former Sears space will be fully refurbished before Hermès opens there in 2023, while other parts of the mall's 180,000-square-foot expansion will open next year.
The terms of the lease were not disclosed and Hermès declined to comment beyond the confirmation of the signing of the contract and the opening date of 2023. However, the brand has been one of the few luxury suppliers to sail through the coronavirus pandemic thanks to soaring total sales, a large portion of which are avid Asia-Pacific buyers as well as dedicated US buyers.
Colin Shaughnessy, executive vice president of US leasing at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, said talks with Hermès go back to 2019 when the brand first opened a store in a San Diego property. The San Fernando Valley is a changing population in sprawling LA County as more affluent enclaves like Calabasas and Hidden Hills expand, and Glendale is a new place of gentrification, attracting younger renters.
"Originally we wanted Hermès in the luxury district of the center," said Shaughnessy. "When we shared our vision for the redevelopment with their team, those plans changed to give Hermès an anchor position that would provide better connections with their customers and the opportunity to create their own identity within the extension."
With the acceleration of digital shopping habits and trends, a major expansion of a mall may seem counterintuitive, but Shaughnessy said that during the pandemic, every time various government restrictions were lifted, "footfall and sales fell sharply". He said URW sees this as a sign of "clear pent-up consumer demand for quality shopping destinations."
Westfield Topanga's redevelopment is not entirely focused on shopping, however, as many malls continue to be mixed-use and entertained to attract customers. Shaughnessy said there will be a "cook-controlled" food hall, lounges and cocktail bars, entertainment and recreational activities, and indoor and outdoor public spaces and retail, although he refused to indicate how many retailers there would be. He also noted that office space, fitness centers and even apartments are being added and developed in other URW properties.
"Our space is our greatest asset," said Shaughnessy, "and what we do with it is the key to our success."
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