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Terrell Joins A&G Amid Retail Store Shakeout

Longtime Sears RE Exec Joins Advisory Firm That's Handled Many of Largest Retail Brick and Mortar Closings
April 9, 2018
Jim Terrell, who spent 36 years minding what became a shrinking real estate portfolio at Sears Holdings, is joining real-estate advisory firm A&G Realty Partners at a time when retailers find themselves in need of consultants who can help navigate lease and land deals through difficult bankruptcies and massive store closings.

Terrell, whose career experience spans many retailers’ cradle-to-grave life stages--guiding site selection and new-store openings to repurposing stores, distribution centers and offices to negotiating property divestures and lease termination--has been named senior managing director. He will work out of the Chicago offices.

"Jim is a prolific deal-maker with a very diverse real estate background," said Andy Graiser, who shares A&G president duties with Emilio Amendola. "He is widely recognized in the industry as an innovative problem-solver, playing key roles in a myriad of complex and creative transactions in the retail and real estate landscape."

Many retailers are desperate for that kind of assistance. Retailers are closing their stores at record paces, a fallout from the consumer shift to online shopping as well as a years-long problem of an overabundance of U.S. retail stores. A recent Pew Research Center study found that some 80 percent of Americans are now making online purchases, more than half of whom use smartphones.

As has been evident to anyone who drives by malls and shopping strips, that shift is leading to an aggressive fallout in brick-and-mortar store closings, the most recent of which was the Toys "R" Us empire. After a difficult holiday-shopping season, Toys "R" Us began liquidation sales in March at all of its remaining 735 stores nationwide, including the Babies "R" Us chain.

Last week, the Business Insider news site reported that already more than 3,800 stores are slated to go dark this year, according to its analysis, following last year’s total closings of about 8,600 physical stores.

Besides Toys "R" Us, BI said Walgreens will close some 600 of its name pharmacies and the Rite Aid stores, while Ascena Retail Group, parent of Ann Taylor, Dress Barn and Lane Bryant, is slated to shutter about 500 stores. That kind of rapid downsizing industrywide is forcing the C-suite of many of the largest merchants to seek help to negotiate terms with landlords, sell property and undertake the arduous process of closing hundreds of stores at one time.

At Sears, Terrell participated in or directed several complex transactions, including the merger creating Sears Holdings Corp., the spin-off of the Seritage Growth Property REIT and the formation of a REMIC (real estate mortgage investment conduit). He was also key to the mergers and acquisition team that acquired Lands’ End as well as other smaller companies.

Terrell retired from Sears in 2015 and took on a senior vice president of real estate job for Ashley Furniture until mid-2016 when he launched an independent retail consultancy firm.

Graiser said that he would be surprised if the number of closings this year exceeded last year’s, but said the square footage is likely to be much bigger. “You look at some companies like Toys “R” Us or the big supermarkets with big (footprints) and on some good real estate,” he said. "It creates opportunities for major redevelopment."

In Chicago, Terrell said the closing of stores like Toys “R” Us creates immense pockets of retail opportunities in areas with dense populations and good demographics. “Look at Bob’s Discount Furniture coming into Chicago in a big way,” he said, referencing the company that has expanded quickly in the greater Chicago area, including stores over the Indiana border. “There are some really savvy privately held companies in this environment that are very, very nimble and look at this market as a big opportunity across the board.”

Jennifer Waters, Chicago Reporter  CoStar Group   
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