“Our bias is for growth,” Maricich said, joking, “I’m much better at addition than subtraction.”
On the second morning of Las Vegas Winter Market – while buyers and interior designers were actively examining new products in Buildings A, B, C and the Pavilions – International Market Centers (IMC), owners and operators of World Market Center Las Vegas, broke ground on construction of The Expo at World Market Center Las Vegas. The new 315,000-sq.-ft. exhibition facility is scheduled to open in summer 2020 on the World Market Center Las Vegas campus.
The news came on the heels of IMC’s announcement during the Atlanta Market earlier this month of a three-year, $280 million-dollar investment in new initiatives to enhance all three of its market properties: Atlanta, High Point, and Las Vegas. Over the next 6 to 24 months, there will be changes to all three campuses ranging from category enrichment and extension, the launch of new verticals, strategic remerchandising of existing resources, digital and mobile platform enhancements, and physical improvements in arrival areas and public spaces.
“What is rewarding is that [an investment of this scale] allows us to do things other people can’t do,” Robert Maricich, CEO of IMC told reporters at a private press conference. “It puts us in an incredibly unique position to pay our investors and give a nice return” while also putting money back into the business. “Over the next three years, you’ll see us maximize this opportunity with initiatives we’re not [ready to announce] now,” he stated. “In this changing [retail] environment, I don’t have to tell you how challenging and complicated the world has become.”
Underscoring IMC’s commitment to buyers’ desires, Maricich added, “If the buyers decide they want to go to Timbuktu, then that’s where we’re going to go; and if they want to do everything on an iPad, [we’ll accommodate that]. We are that buyer-focused. We know that buyers don’t want to spend one entire day traveling to a Market and spending two days there before traveling another entire day back.”
Maricich alluded to upcoming efficiencies that will be designed to maximize the buyers’ and exhibitors’ time as well as the buying experience. “There’s only about a 20-percent overlap in buyers between the High Point and Las Vegas Markets,” he told reporters. “And that 20 percent is typically the top 100 buyers who go to every market, regardless of location. [This undertaking] is a big universe with lots of moving parts to it and we are uniquely positioned to go after it. We have been able to put together an incredible team to do this.”
Maricich stated, “If you ask the buyers what they want, they’ll say, ‘New.’ And if you ask exhibitors what they want, they’ll say it’s more at-bats…more opportunities to sell. We want to give our exhibitors more at-bats, and buyers more of what’s new. We think of ourselves not as a Market, but as an eco-system that will be more rewarding for those selling and buying.”
Part of that master plan is the development of the new Expo, which will feature 194,785 gross square feet of exhibit space divisible into two halls – North with 97,684 gross square feet, and South with 97,101 gross square feet – which can accommodate up to 1,000 booths. The Expo will have expansive lobby and registration areas, an on-site shuttle bus depot plus attached parking garage, and two permanent “grab and go” food service areas.
Maricich told reporters that the Expo will be contiguous with Building C, in front of the existing parking garage. Why the need for the Expo? “It will serve our needs with our shows and give us the opportunity to [offer] other events that benefit our tenants. There is a demand where we can fill a need.”
The city will also benefit from this endeavor. “We are a catalyst for the downtown Las Vegas area. The city is undergoing a major renewal development and a rebirth of the downtown and medical district,” Maricich noted. “We’re delighted to cooperate with the city of Las Vegas and the state of Nevada to bring this new exhibition venue to Las Vegas. Our use of local labor, at ‘prevailing wage rates’ will make this project a win-win for the exhibition industry and the city of Las Vegas.”
Construction is scheduled to begin fully in April and the grand opening is expected for IMC’s Summer 2020 Las Vegas Market. “The city of Las Vegas is moving heaven and earth to help us,” Maricich remarked.
“According to the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority (LVCVA) in 2017, the exposition industry generated $58.8 billion in economic benefit to Southern Nevada,” said Mayor Carolyn Goodman. “With the addition of this new facility, Las Vegas now offers the exhibition industry a total of 4,214,047 gross square feet of exhibit hall space at four facilities – the Las Vegas Convention Center, Sands Expo, Mandalay Bay, and The Expo at World Market Center Las Vegas.”
The Expo at Las Vegas Market will be the new permanent venue for presentation of temporary gift and home décor exhibits at IMC’s semi-annual Las Vegas Market. During the Las Vegas Market, IMC plans to use the lobby of the Expo at World Market Center Las Vegas for attendee and exhibitor registration.
Outside of the January and July Las Vegas Market dates, The Expo at World Market Center Las Vegas will host trade shows, as well as corporate and private events. According to Maricich, “Currently, there is approximately 200,000 square feet of available conference and exhibition space in downtown Las Vegas in several locations, but the largest single venue – at 85,000 square feet – is smaller than the Expo at World Market Center Las Vegas. This new Expo Center will address demand for modern convention and trade show space that currently is limited in the downtown area.”
Maricich addresses editors of the trade magazines at a private press conference.