Zara debuts at Cherry Hill Mall on Sept. 28; King of Prussia store to follow

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Fast fashion retailer Zara will will open at Cherry Hill Mall next week, on Sept. 28.

Fast-fashion retailer Zara of Spain will open its first suburban Philadelphia location at Cherry Hill Mall on Thursday, Sept. 28, laying the groundwork for what will soon be three stores in the region.

The 26,000-square-foot store will open between Macy’s and Nordstrom — about eight miles from the Zara in Center City on Walnut Street — offering apparel and accessories for men, women, and children.

Although Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), which owns the Cherry Hill Mall, announced that it had executed a lease with the coveted retailer on Nov. 1, 2016, this is the first announcement of Zara’s opening date.

In June, Simon Property Group, owner of King of Prussia Mall, announced that it, too, had landed Zara, and a flagship 30,000-square-foot, two-level store will be opening there in 2018.

Zara, which caters to teens and young adults, is opening ahead of schedule in Cherry Hill. It was originally slated by PREIT to open in November.

To accommodate a tenant the size of Zara in a top-tier mall, landlord PREIT found the space through a 5,000-square-foot mall expansion and the relocation of five existing tenants, including apparel retailers Banana Republic and Hollister.

“The addition of Zara, a top-tier fast-fashion brand coveted by consumers, will attract fashion-forward shoppers and offer an opportunity to rediscover the ever-evolving Cherry Hill Mall experience,” PREIT chief executive officer Joseph Coradino said Monday.

This is PREIT’s first Zara store in its mall portfolio. Last year, the company marked the grand opening of two other, first-to-portfolio tenants: Primark, a fast-fashion retailer from Ireland at Willow Grove Park in July 2016, and Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th at Springfield Town Center in September 2016.

Zara, one of the largest international fashion retailers — and described by experts as being in the same league as H&M out of Sweden — is lauded by Wall Street analysts and landlords.

Zara is the oldest of eight brands owned by the dynamic Spanish retailer Inditex, which operates 7,385 stores in 94 countries. Inditex SA reported an 18 percent increase in net profit for the first quarter of this year. Analysts laud the firm for its early embrace of the Internet and its ability to get new designs in stores very quickly.

Zara belongs in what is referred to as the “fast-fashion” category as a retailer that sells at high volumes, churns out new designs quickly, and sells merchandise priced relatively cheap  due to its market reach and ability to spread the cost per unit to customers. The category is surging even as traditional department stores face rounds of closures.

There is a Zara at 1715 Walnut St. in a building owned by Midwood Investment & Development L.L.C. that does well in traffic and sales, said Midwood CEO John Usdan.

“Zara is the preeminent soft-goods retailer in the world, with stores in Asia, Europe and the U.S.,” Usdan said Sunday. “They are a global business, and they design and manufacture their own clothing as a vertically integrated company. Because of this, they are able to respond to trending in-store fashions immediately by increasing inventory because they are so flexible.

“They are very, very careful about the kind of building they wanted to rent,” Usdan said when Zara searched for a Center City site, which opened in 2004 and has been the only Zara outpost in Pennsylvania since then. “You do not see them in every corner and every shopping center. They are slow, by most people’s standards, to open stores in the U.S., and as a result, they are extremely well-positioned to respond to the transition in retail. They are a brilliant retailer.”

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One of Zara’s windows at 1715 Walnut St. in Center City. Up to now, it had been the only Zara outpost in Pennsylvania.

Simeon Siegel, senior retail analyst at Nomura Securities International Inc. in New York, said Zara “has been the general model for fast fashion.”

“Fashion has shifted from dictating to their customers to taking their cues and adapting,” he said. “That, coupled with value offerings, are a winning proposition.”