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Levis And Dockers Pulling Out Of The Island
Others scratch or reduce local expansion plans; permitting process still a problem for retailers
By TAINA ROSA
May 29, 2003
LAS VEGAS--Levis and Dockers are pulling out of outlet malls Prime Retail and Belz Factory Outlet World, the only shopping malls at which they have a presence in Puerto Rico.
Meanwhile, other companies such as Regis Corp. and Best Buy are seeing their expansion plans hindered by the local governments burdensome permitting process.
Outlet stores Levis and Dockers are abandoning Prime Retail Outlet in Barceloneta and Belz Factory Outlet World in Canovanas. The stores, which are part of the Casual Male Retail Group, are on a list of prime locations for sublet or assignment the company distributed at the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) convention.
The Barceloneta mall will be left with 11,410 square feet of vacant space and Belz with more than 12,000 square feet. Sources close to the company say sales were below expectations, although the stores had been operating for over a year.
Paul Guidera, vice president of real estate for hairstyling salon chain Regis, told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS that "although we are committed to the [Puerto Rico] market, were forced to expand on a one-by-one basis because the permitting process and the bureaucracy slow everything down, making it very expensive to do business in Puerto Rico. However, we will continue opening new stores." Regis, based in Minnesota, also owns the Supercuts and Mastercuts salons, which have stores on the island, Guidera added.
Executives at local shopping malls agreed with Guidera that the permitting process is still damaging business. "The retailers are willing to set up shop on the island, but the permitting process is scaring them away," said one executive.
Sources at Best Buy confirmed that plans to open three Best Buy stores on the island have been temporarily canceled. They cited an unfavorable business environment, but maintain hopes of entering the island in the future.
This means that retailers are repeating their warning from last year: If the permitting process isnt sped up, the local economy will continue losing out on valuable retail business opportunities.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.