5 Questions with Mark Renner of OfficeMax

1. What are the biggest challenges in your industry today?

The biggest challenge is updating the chain of stores from an average of 25,000 sf to our smaller format of 14,000 sf. What we have found is that over the years, the business changed and we don’t need as much space as we did, say 10 years ago. Some products have gotten smaller (we went from PC’s to desktops, to laptops, to tablets), some went away entirely, and through better efficiency and product replenishment we can carry less inventory in the store without any significant change in performance.

2. What are the biggest opportunities in your industry?

While updating the chain is our biggest challenge, with 75% of our stores' leases expiring in the next 5 years, it’s also one of our biggest opportunities. As leases come up for renewal we have the opportunity to relocate the store to improve the real estate, relocate within the center, downsize the store or renew in the existing location at more favorable lease terms.

3. If you were giving advice to someone just starting in real estate for the retail industry, what advice would you give them?

Gain experience in another area of retail development such as legal, architecture or construction. The more you can understand the full scope of development the better you’ll be at negotiating the terms of a deal.

4. What is the role that customer intelligence plays in your business, and how does it have an impact on the decisions you make?

With the OfficeMax MaxPerks program we’re able to know who our customers are, where they live or work, how often they shop, and what they buy. Using that information, Buxton has been able to help us identify similar customers that we’re not currently serving which allows us to maximize a markets' potential when we look for relocations and new stores.

5. What are you reading?

When I’m not reading industry news, I read for enjoyment. The last book I read was John Grisham’s The Confession.

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