2020 has been a devastating year for retail. The COVID-19 pandemic pummeled an industry that was already struggling to adapt to the rise of online shopping, leading to the announcement of 11,157 store closures for the year — a record, according to CoStar Group, a provider of commercial real-estate data. Nearly 40 major retailers and restaurant companies filed for bankruptcy.
But that’s not the full story.
Smaller mall landlords are also thinking like the major players.
Mason Asset Management, a commercial real-estate investment company that specializes in buying distressed malls, owns 60 enclosed malls around the country. This summer, it purchased its first retail company, Jennifer Furniture, along with a movie-theater chain, Goodrich Quality Theaters.
Elliot Nassim, the owner and president of Mason Asset Management, said the company saw an opportunity “to go vertical” during the pandemic by investing in distressed brands that had promise. Nassim said the rise of home renovation during the pandemic bolstered the company’s choice to purchase Jennifer Furniture, but he also cited the potential for a brand’s longevity beyond its distressed period. Mason Asset Management has six Jennifer locations open.
“The way we see it is there’s a value to these companies that maybe the business world doesn’t appreciate the long-term value of,” Nassim told Business Insider in an interview. “While today maybe the values are depressed and people are calling it quits, as mall operators and landlords, we understand the value of these brands.”
In the case of movie theaters, Nassim said that though the pandemic had essentially halted moviegoing, it would resume its place in American culture once the pandemic passes.
Nassim added that the company wasn’t just buying up brands so that its properties would have tenants.
The theme of brand longevity and history underpins the strategies of many brand-management companies choosing which bankrupt brands to buy.
“It’s not necessarily to sustain the mall — it’s believing in the long-term viability of a Brooks Brothers, a Forever 21, where these things have a place in society,” he said. “Maybe today they just need to be redirected.”
To read more, please visit Business Insider