Insights from The Real Deal: Lansco’s Abrams expects foreign retailers to descend on NYC

By Adam Pincus | December 20, 2010 02:14PM

Brokers anticipate a rise in foreign companies opening their first retail stores in New York City in 2011, increasing from the approximately dozen that debuted this year.

“I would say there are 20 to 30 brands that are actively looking and will potentially open next year,” Robin Abrams, executive vice president at commercial brokerage firm Lansco, said. She spoke about the trend of foreign retailers opening new stores in the accompanying video segment Insights from The Real Deal (see video above).

Brokers mentioned several retailers that were looking in New York, although most of them could not be confirmed. Possible new stores for New York City include Pull & Bear and Massimo Dutti, both owned by the world’s largest retailer, Spain-based Inditex, which also owns Zara; British apparel firm Jack Wills; and French clothing maker Vanessa Bruno. Abrams said Swedish clothing store Polarn O. Pyret, which opened this fall in Greenwich, Conn., has been looking in New York City as well.

Beth Rosen, a senior director at retail brokerage Robert K. Futterman & Associates, said she recently returned from a trip to Italy to look for new stores that could be interested in opening in New York.

In addition, she met in New York with a shoe retailer based in Russia that has about 50 stores in that country and in Italy, but no American presence. The company hopes to open 100 stores in the United States over the next five or 10 years, but she would not disclose the company’s name.

And her firm is also looking toward Asian retailers as well.

“Our office is definitely targeting and calling these Chinese retailers and Japanese retailers to look for the next Uniqlo,” she said, referring to the brand opened by Japan’s largest clothing retailer Fast Retailing, which signed a blockbuster nearly $300 million lease at 666 Fifth Avenue this year. She said her firm is looking to other booming markets as well.

“Brazil is huge. Everyone is looking to Brazil for new retailers,” Rosen said.

Retail leasing agents said they no longer depended so heavily on Western European countries such as France and Italy to be the sources for new stores in New York.

“Australia is starting to look like a good training ground now,” Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of retail leasing and sales at Prudential Douglas Elliman, said, with companies such as clothing chain Cotton On, based there, considering a move here.

Some brokers want to encourage manufacturers or wholesalers to break into retail game in New York.

Michael Glanzberg, a principal at Sinvin Real Estate, said his office is representing about a half-dozen Chinese designers and manufacturers who are considering opening stores in North America, including New York.

“They feel they can skip the middleman and market themselves,” he said.