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Gaming Guru

Laura Carroll

World Market Center announces $1 billion investment, expansion in gift and home decor

1 August 2012

With the help of a $1 billion investment and a strong year, the 14-month-old International Market Centers is expanding its gift and home decor offerings at the World Market Center in Las Vegas.

Floors 1 through 11 of Building C on the World Market Center campus will become the gift and home decor segments' new home, with the building's top floors housing temporary exhibits and furniture. The project is under way and is expected to be completed within three years.

International Market Centers is the result of the $1 billion May 2011 deal that merged Las Vegas' World Market Center with two rivals in High Point, N.C. Investment firms Bain Capital Partners and Oaktree Capital Management are majority owners.

That original investment is split between Las Vegas and High Point, and an undisclosed portion of that is being used to repurpose Building C. The Las Vegas Design Center, which uses space on the first and third floors of Building C, will move to Building A.

The repurposing plan for World Market Center Las Vegas was unveiled during the 2012 Summer Market, which encompasses 5.1 million square feet of showroom, event and seminar space through Friday. Each Las Vegas market attracts about 50,000 people, generating an economic impact of about $200 million, according to the International Market Centers. The Las Vegas Market also attracts between $22 billion and $23 billion in Western home furnishings retail buying power.

With the 2012 Summer Market, International Market Centers unveiled a precursor to its plan, in the form of Building B's third floor . The floor is home to about 11 gift and decor vendors, up from the three that previously inhabited the floor.

One of those original tenants is Paragon, a wholesale supplier of wall decor. Owner Malanta Knowles said having other gift and decor companies on B3 has made this market "much better" and traffic has been more "robust" this season.

"We had a good Monday," Knowles said. "The cross-marketing of product is amazing."

She said the refocused floor is attracting targeted buyers.

Home accessories company Lazy Susan is one of the new kids on the block. Carlos Mercado, Lazy Susan's export specialist, said he thinks the brand is getting "a lot" more traffic since moving onto the floor.

"Everything is simply better. The competition is there, but we feel like that will help expose our goods to buyers," Mercado said.

For years, news stories about the World Market Center have referenced the expansive, almost ominous-looking buildings on Grand Central Parkway. And inside, navigating around a market can be confusing. This plan should help alleviate customers' World Market Center navigation woes, said Robert Maricich, CEO of International Market Centers.

"It's a lot more common sense on where to go," he said.

The plan isn't just common sense; it promises to attract more attendees and vendors to the World Market Center, he said. "As the gift and home decor segment grows, it brings different buyers," Maricich said.

The CEO estimated the segment could draw "tens of thousands" additional attendees as it grows in Las Vegas.

"Now that we have the capital, we can undertake major initiatives like this and repurpose floors. We're sending the gift and home decor industries a huge message," Maricich said, referring to the capital that was infused into the company as a result of last year's merger.

At the Winter market this year, Maricich said gifts and home decor were the fastest-growing segments in his universe. Nationally, furniture is an $85 billion industry, and gift and home decor each are $60 billion industries.

"We're looking at a $200 billion universe and looking at it in the context of a total marketplace," Maricich said.

Since the start of 2012, the World Market Center Las Vegas has added 265,000 feet of newly leased space, which translates to 43 companies.

"We think ultimately gift and home decor could occupy 1.7 million square feet at the World Market Center," he said.