By Frances Ryan
Special to News is my Business
Topeka, one of the island’s leading discount retailers, is kicking off the new year with a long-term strategic succession and expansion plan that calls for a $4 million investment, the addition of three new stores, and the creation of 53 new permanent jobs, Rolando López, president of Almacenes Yakima Inc., parent company of Topeka, told News Is My Business.
Once completed in 2016, all stores will feature a new retail image. Construction of the first new store and remodeling works of existing locations is scheduled to begin this March, at which time the chain will also unveil the chain’s new image.
Established in 1967 by the Estrella and López families, Topeka is among the island’s top 10 discount retail chains with estimated annual retail sales totaling more than $20 million. As part of the succession plan, the López family will acquire the totality of the parent company including the warehouse operation, which will also be prepared to accommodate the chain’s projected growth.
Overall, construction plans call for the development of three new stores, bringing Topeka’s total number of locations up to seven once the expansion is completed next year. Existing stores in Río Piedras, San Juan, Bayamón and Caguas will continue to serve the thriving downtown centers they operate in, however, will be remodeled to match the chain’s new image.
López continued saying: “New retail operations will help create 11 new permanent jobs per store, while remodeled locations will yield approximately five additional jobs per store.”
Expansion efforts will translate into 53 new permanent jobs within the chain’s retail operation, bringing total head count up to more than 175. Another 36 indirect jobs are expected to be created during construction.
Citing strategic reasons, the Topeka store on Loiza Street, Santurce will be closed. However, the store’s approximate 11 employees will be considered for employment within the remaining Topeka stores as well as the new locations once operational.
To successfully break into the competitive shopping center arena, Topeka’s new store prototype features the latest retail industry store-within-store design concept, providing greater retail floor space for new product categories, brand names and designer labels. To that end, Topeka will strengthen relationships with such longstanding suppliers as Colgate Palmolive, Goya de Puerto Rico, The Clorox Company and Puerto Rico Supplies among others.
The expansion will be supported by an integrated marketing strategy, include more comprehensive shoppers, targeted promotions and public relations initiatives.