Skip to main content

5Qs for Katz & Associates' prez Marty Hennessy on his 30-plus years in retail real estate

Al Urbanski
Hennessy: “National chains are now considering additional markets that were outside their original distribution plans."

Marty Hennessy was director of real estate for Hallmark’s eastern region for nearly a decade before broker Dan Katz convinced him to start Katz Florida with two brokers and a part-time assistant. Twenty-five years later, Katz Florida and its 26-person staff is one of the largest-volume retail real estate players in the Southeast and Hennessy sits as president of Katz & Associates

Chain Store Age sat down with Marty to get his view about how things have changed for expanding retailers.

What's the biggest difference in the way national retail chains plot their expansions now?

Now it’s so much more pinpointed with facts and data. Technology has really taken expansion planning to a different level. There’s data from zip code studies. They use cell phone tracking data from And their rewards programs give them great intelligence about areas where customer activity is spiking. Retailer reward programs track millions of customers right down to their home address. Aerial photography also gives them the ability to get visuals of so many markets that they used to have to travel to. Technology is absolutely widening their view.  

We've seen lots of top chains create different store formats. Is that because space is currently hard to get? 

The number of new developments has decreased dramatically over the past years, forcing retailers to be more flexible on their co-tenancy requirements and site criteria. For instance, doing freestanding stores in addition to inline locations and entering secondary centers. They’re also considering additional markets that were outside their original distribution plan.

Advertisement - article continues below

Can you share with us a story of a brand that has gotten creative with its expansion strategy?

Nobody does it better than TJX. They’ve come up with new-sized store layouts and even new concepts over the past several years. They’ve moved into smaller markets such as Mariana, Florida, sixty miles from Tallahasse, and took a space as is. They didn’t have to make it look like the Taj Mahal. There are a lot of companies that strive to protect brand image with the look of their stores, but it’s not always necessary in markets where locals are just happy to have a TJ Maxx in town to shop at. 

Are most of your retail clients widening their geographic scopes?

I think they’re expanding their breadth of smaller size markets and downsizing to fit into that size market, but they must stay within their comfort zones for rents. 

You’ve spent close to 35 years in retail real estate. What are a few of your fondest memories?

Over the past 35 years in real estate, I have been fortunate enough to have worked for two incredible family-owned companies – Hallmark Cards and Katz & Associates.  I’ve had the pleasure to have worked with store designers, construction, legal and many real estate reps while at Hallmark. Since we opened the Boca Raton office in 1999 for Katz, I have had the pleasure and working and learning from Dan and Brian Katz, our marketing team, real estate brokers, and some of the best retailers in the U.S. Having helped each of them grow and succeed is something I’ll always remember fondly.

Every great deal also includes a broker on the other side of the negotiating table.  Having been able to work with so many great professionals has made my 35 years in the industry very rewarding.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds