Seizing an opportunity 
to help retailers

Kris Smith makes brands more
competitive using real estate

Kris Smith, Vice President for JLL in Orange County, spent over 20 years working for retail brands like Coach, Calvin Klein, Max Mara, and Liz Claiborne.  As the Director of Coach, Inc./Tapestry, Kris managed the strategy, operations, and real estate interests for the Western U.S. and Canadian markets. She loved this exciting and engaging career and as time went on, Kris noticed consumer behavior and shopping habits were shifting. This was well before the pandemic accelerated the changes she’d observed.

“I was watching how people were changing their habits and looking at my company. They were trying to ship items from stores to people across the country, but it was an inefficient system that didn’t allow them to be competitive.” Kris said. 

Kris knew this couldn’t work over the long term for retailers. She realized her specialized skill set and industry knowledge could be invaluable for national and global brands. She also knew the best way to leverage her expertise in retail, ecommerce, and real estate strategy was to shift from representing a single retailer’s real estate needs into the brokerage side of the business, where she could make the most impact with a vast reach.

Kris Smith riding her horse, Caprice.

Luckily for Kris, she had a fast-track for industry research. Her father worked as an Industrial broker and his connections across the industry enabled Kris to have conversations with various companies. 

“When I met people at JLL, I felt comfortable instantly. I knew this was a place I could find mentorship” Kris said. “Not everyone is willing to take on someone who is looking to make a career change. I’m not in my 20s or 30s, I’m female, and I’m unique to the industry. I think JLL saw the skillset I was able to bring to the table. They really understood and saw what my retail background could bring to the industrial brokerage team.”

Beyond the people, another key factor in her decision to join JLL was its technology. The tools offered to employees and clients were beyond what she saw elsewhere.

“It’s amazing what I can do for clients,” Kris said. “No one else really does what we can do, for free¬–if they even had it to begin with. Some companies charge huge fees for using these tools, or specialized companies do this type of work.”

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Two examples Kris mentioned are the proprietary Portfolio Analytics Tool (PAT), a smart analytics platform, and Pinpoint, a tool for retailers.

“The tool I use the most is the NAC (Network Analysis Calculator). This one helps clients determine how many and what states their distribution centers should be in,” Kris said.

Since transitioning into industrial brokerage, Kris feels she’s making a difference and helping the brands we know and love to solve some of their toughest real estate challenges. Her goal is to help retailers be competitive in the new environment and achieve as close to Amazon ship times as possible. It’s hard to rewind consumer expectations of two-day and same-day shipping, but by using JLL’s resources, she can help brands solve their shipping challenges and deliver faster.

“I love that feeling of helping someone be successful and knowing that the brand is going to carry on for 50 or 100 years, especially against the challenges of the last ten years with online retail giants growing and additional challenges brought on by the pandemic,” Kris said. “Seeing them not just survive but thrive in this new world we are living in is exciting to me.”

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