Tuesday, September 18, 2007

NRTA Conference Notes

We who work in, and report on, retail tend to gloss over the impact of lease administrators. Each year, when I attend the National Retail Tenants Association (NRTA) conference, I am reminded of the power this group of retail headquarters staffers holds on the profitability of the individual units and the chain as a whole.

I’m blogging from the site of this year’s conference—the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort in Tucson, Ariz. I have attended a full day of sessions with about 600 lease administrators, controllers, attorneys and staff accountants from most of the top chains across all categories of retail. I’ve chatted with lease administrators from Footlocker, PetSmart, Target, Dress Barn, Chico’s, Best Buy, Toys “R” Us and more—and all told me they attend this conference not to be passively instructed, but to actively share best practices among their peers. The goal, they say, is to take back new understanding and improved methods to their respective home bases.

The atmosphere here is reminiscent of an all-star football game, in which top players from a variety of teams come together each year to practice as a team, learn as a team, play as a team.

And, by doing so, they individually and collectively increase their strength and skill.

—Katherine Field

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