Report: Costco stepping up plans to open in malls

New York City Costco Wholesale Corp. is moving forward with plans to open stores in shopping malls as a way to expand in crowded metro areas, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

"Our preference is to never be in a mall or by a mall," co-founder and chairman Jeff Brotman said. "But in metro areas there just is not that much land, and we still want to expand.”

Brotman noted that the company wants these outlets to be nearly as large as its normal outlets, and carry the same product portfolio. Costco, whose stores can range up 205,000 sq. ft., said it will either fit into the space contained by a large department store or use the space from a smaller store and add additional footage.

Costco last week announced a multiple-site agreement with The Westfield Group, whereby the warehouse club operator will build an approximately 146,000-sq.-ft. outlet to anchor the proposed Village at Westfield Topanga, in Los Angeles. At Westfield Sarasota Square, in Sarasota, Fla., a former department store site will be redeveloped to house an approximately 145,000-sq.-ft. Costco. At Westfield Wheaton, in Wheaton, Md., an approximately 148,000-sq.-ft. Costco will occupy the second level of a former department store site.

The new Costco stores are envisaged to open in late 2011/early 2012 at Sarasota and Wheaton, and late 2012 at The Village at Westfield Topanga.

In the Journal report, Brotman said the chain is looking at several other mall sites, including one in Trumbull, Conn.