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These Six Companies are Conquering Global Retail – Here’s How

These Six Companies are Conquering Global Retail – Here’s How

Navigating the waters of global expansion is a tricky feat for even the savviest retailers. Yet, these six companies have managed to overcome the obstacles of venturing abroad and emerge as retail superheroes. Steve McLinden’s recent article, “Top of the World,” published in the January 2016 edition of International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) magazine, examines how the following megabrands have conquered foreign markets—an ambition that countless other retailers have yet to master.

Here are a few highlights from the article, along with some fun facts about Gray Construction’s work with these six retail giants: 


German-based grocery giant Aldi is seeing unprecidented growth in the United States. 

German-based grocery giant Aldi is seeing unprecedented growth in the United States, with plans to add some 600 stores to its current 1,400 by 2018. Momentum is expected to continue globally with an additional 130 stores in the U.K. and 80 in Australia to be added over the next few years, and more expansions slated in Italy. Thanks to its affordable (and delicious) self-branded offerings, Aldi holds massive appeal to millennials—and everyone else.

Did You Know? Aldi’s next U.S. stop is Southern California, where the company hopes to open about 50 stores this year. Gray is one of the few selected contractors building for Aldi in California and currently has six projects under contract.

Since opening its first U.S. store in 1998, French chain Sephora is now up to 780 shops and counting. 


Operating in 31 countries, French chain Sephora’s touch-and-feel environment and willingness to offer superb beauty advice are just two facets of its universal appear. Since opening its first U.S. store in 1998, the brand is now up to 780 shops and counting.  Sephora’s seamless approach to integrating technology into their brand has proven very successful, with things like smartphone apps and “magic mirrors” making a big splash with customers.

Did You Know? Gray and Timberwolff, a Gray company, have completed dozens of new stores, store-in-store roll outs and flagship stores for Sephora throughout the Western region.

Swedish retailer H&M is experiencing rapid growth internationally. In the U.S. alone, the chain plans to open another 30 stores this year. 


Since opening its first store almost seven decades ago in Sweden, multinational retailer H&M has moved into 61 countries and opened roughly 4,000 stores. Since 2010, in the U.S. alone, H&M has grown from 200 to more than 350 stores and is on pace to open another 30 stores per year. The chain’s rapid expansion has been enabled by its quick-response supply chain, and dedication to providing its customers with high-quality fashion at the best prices.

Did You Know? Over the last 8 years, Gray and Timberwolff, a Gray company, have completed over 100 stores for H&M. Recently, Gray provided retail facility construction services for H&M’s  first store in the Hawaiian Islands.

Since opening its first U.S. store in 1986, IKA has growth to be the country's second-largest furnisher. 


Swedish-based IKEA opened its first U.S. store in 1985 in Philadelphia. Since then, the company has grown to 42 U.S. stores over 30 years, and is the country’s second-largest furnisher. Having opened stores across 47 countries, IKEA has found great success through conducting “home studies” in several countries before opening stores. The furnisher has tapped into less conventional markets like Bulgaria, Cypress, Israel, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey, and has plans for stores in Brazil Estonia, India, Latvia, Serbia and Ukraine over the next four years. Though target numbers for new U.S. stores haven’t been disclosed, the company’s president, Lars Peterson, recently described the U.S. plans as “quite ambitious.”

Did You Know? Gray has built six projects for IKEA in the United States, totaling more than 5 million s.f.

Zara is the flagship concept of Spain's Inditex Group, the world's largest apparel seller. 


With 2,000 stores across 88 countries, Zara is the flagship concept of Spain’s Inditex Group, the world’s largest apparel seller. Zara currently has fewer than 60 stores in the U.S., but there’s plenty of room for North American growth for the retail giant. Zara has almost by itself recalibrated the industry’s fashion cycle from two annual collections to five or six, with about half of the high-end fashion companies following suit. Britain’s own Kate Middleton is one of Zara’s highest-profile customers.

Did you know? Gray recently completed its first store for Zaraa beautiful 24,315 s.f. store located in San Diego's Westfield University Towne Center.

Costco has quickly evolved into the second largest retailer in the world, with about 700 stores across the globe--and counting.


Warehouse-club chain Costco has quickly evolved into the second-largest retailer in the world since opening its doors in 1983. With 700 stores worldwide, 500 of which are in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, Costco has some 71 million members internationally. Approximately 70 percent of Costco's revenue is generated from domestic stores at present, but the chain is slated for substantial growth as it plans to open about 30 warehouse stores per year for the foreseeable future. 

Did you know? Gray has established a longstanding relationship with Costco, having completed more than 10 projects across the United States which amount to more than 1 million s.f. of space. 

To read the full article, “Top of the World” by Steve McClinden, click here.

To learn how Gray’s West Region and Ohio Valley offices, and Timberwolff, a Gray company, have been meeting the renovation, design-build and construction management needs of the retail industry for decades, click here