It wasn’t long after the news broke last month that the global giant private equity firm Blackstone took over ownership of International Market Centers (IMC) – which organizes both the Las Vegas and High Point Markets – from Bain Capital and Oaktree Capital, that word of mouth began to spread about expansion.
During the recent Las Vegas Market at an exclusive meeting with the trade press, IMC CEO Bob Maricich confirmed that plans for a new building is on the horizon. “We are all about delivering an exceptional buyer experience. [Billionaire and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway] Warren Buffett once outlined the ABCs of failure as: Arrogance, Bureaucracy & Complacency. It’s easy to get complacent when you’ve had success,” Maricich explained. Noting that IMC management was involved in the choice of new ownership, he added, “Blackstone is one of the largest owners of real estate in the world. You’ll never find someone more bullish on housing.”
Scott Eckman, President/Furniture and Home Décor Leasing and Chief Strategy Officer, remarked, “We still own land here [on the World Market Center campus] and we should be fully leased by the end of 2018. Blackstone is excited to partner with our management team. It’s all about growing and how we can grow vertically,” he stated. “We are the dominant West Coast market and we think we have a dominant East Coast Market [with High Point]. The furniture temporaries in Building B are sold out and we have a lot of big renewals going on, which is important because renewals means we have given [those exhibitors] great value. With Blackstone, we will have a boundary-less environment. We’re healthy and it’s exciting to watch people grow.”
Dorothy Belshaw, IMC’s President of Gift Leasing, commented, “It’s been five years now [offering an extensive Gift category], which is 10 markets. We’re about to cross the finish line in depth and breadth.”
One of the benefits that Belshaw is most proud of is the increase in multi-line rep showrooms. “If you have, say, 20 rep showrooms, that could mean 150 new lines available to buyers,” she said. “We’ve also been seeing Housewares becoming more of a Gift, plus growth in the better toy category such as educational and artisanal toys. We’re also seeing growth in paper as people are writing cards again, reading books, and adults are coloring!”
Although no further details about the location of the new building were confirmed, there is speculation among exhibitors that the new building will be constructed on the footprint where the Pavilions now stand.