Five businesses looking to grow

Five businesses looking to grow

Panelists outlined expansion plans for five companies at an International Council of Shopping Centers program last week.

Jimmy John's

Expansion plans: The Champaign-based sandwich chain opened its 770th location last week, said Chris Newman, the company's real estate director. Jimmy John's expected to open 175 to 180 restaurants this year and should open its 800th by year's end. Another 200 are expected in 2009, according to Newman, who said he's "very bullish" about opportunities.

Kind of locations it seeks: "High-profile" sites with room for a drive-through – in some cases, 1,300 to 1,500 square feet at the end of a strip shopping center. But franchisees sometimes build freestanding stores on one-third to one-half of an acre. Fifteen percent to 20 percent of locations are freestanding, and 95 percent of those are owned by franchisees, Newman said.

CVS

Expansion plans: The Rhode Island-based pharmacy chain opens "several hundred" new stores a year, said CVS regional director Jim Kurimcak. "So far this year, I've done six deals in central Illinois," Kurimcak said, adding he'd like to increase that next year. Possibilities include Bloomington-Normal and Decatur, and opportunities remain in Springfield and Champaign. "There's no slowdown," he said. "We're looking for quality deals."

Kind of locations it seeks: Sites of at least 1.5 acres to 2 acres in counties with population of at least 20,000 to 25,000. CVS always wants to buy, not lease, the land. High traffic is a must: "We want to be at Main and Main," Kurimcak said.

Busey Bank

Expansion plans: Busey has conventionally expanded along the Interstate 74 corridor, with locations in Champaign-Urbana, Bloomington-Normal, Peoria and Decatur. "Markets such as Springfield and the Quad Cities are of interest to us as well," said Bob Plecki, community president of the Champaign-based bank.

Busey also has eight facilities in the Fort Myers, Fla., area. "We still think it's a good franchise down there," Plecki said. "In the next five to 10 years, Florida is going to come back."

Kind of locations it seeks: "We don't tend to be a destination. We tend to be on errand routes. We tend to be one of multiple stops on people's routes," Plecki said.

Aldi

Expansion plans: Aldi is "actively seeking sites," but the privately held company typically does not advertise where it wants to go, according to Andrew Bulson, a broker for Mid-America Real Estate, which has Aldi as a client. Bulson said the chain is "growing" other markets in the Southeast.

Kind of locations it seeks: Aldi likes to be near Wal-Mart supercenters, interstate highways and in county seats. Typically, it wants at least 35,000 people living within 3 miles of a store. Aldi likes areas where there are "lots of people and a void in coverage," Bulson said, adding that the same family that operates Aldi also operates Trader Joe's.

Verizon Wireless

Expansion plans: "Verizon is looking for more locations in central Illinois," said Charles Schwartz, a retail real estate manager for the company.

Kind of locations it seeks: Verizon Wireless is "almost always a tenant," Schwartz said. "We don't want to be landlords." Three years ago, the company sought 3,000-square-foot locations at the ends of strip centers. Later it looked for 4,000-square-foot freestanding locations near "big-box" stores. Now, Schwartz said, it may go to smaller-size stores.

Also important: high-traffic. "We don't want to put a store on a street that doesn't have 20,000 cars a day," he said.

Verizon has kiosks in Circuit City stores, and with some of those stores closing, Verizon "may be looking for replacements for those."

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