NEW YORK CITY-Locally based Related Cos. acquired Virgin Megastores North America, which currently operates 11 stores nationally with a total 400,000 sf of retail space. The sale is expected to close in September. A spokesperson for Related Cos. tells that they are not commenting on the price at this time.

The spokesperson did tell that the stores are located in Phoenix; Anaheim, CA; Hollywood; Los Angeles; Ontario, CA; San Francisco; Denver; Orlando; Grapevine, TX; and two stores in New York City in the Times Square and Union Square areas. “The acquisition of Virgin Megastores North America is a tremendous opportunity for Related to provide strategic value and exemplifies Related’s investment strategy,” notes Related Cos. president Jeff T. Blau.

Blau adds that “Virgin Megastores is a well-managed premier retail brand of top-tier entertainment lifestyle stores. Their evidenced commitment to progressive business strategies and service makes them an ideal partner. We look forward to leveraging the resources and synergies between our two great brands.”

Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group, says “Virgin Megastores in the US has enjoyed a brilliant two decades as a music and lifestyle retailer, and I am so proud of what we’ve been able to offer consumers. With most of our global retail operations now franchised, Virgin Group will continue to focus on being a global leader in transportation and renewable energy, with interests in financial services, communications and media, health and leisure.”

Continuing employment contracts have been put into place with senior management and Related expects to continue to make key investments into the company, its assets and its future. According to a release, Virgin Megastores has experienced continued growth in 2007 with a 10% increase in comparable music sales through fourth period, and a 17% increase in overall comp sales over last year. Virgin Megastores have also seen significant sale increases in several other departments including an 11% increase in DVD sales and a 26% increase in interactive games’ sales, together with an average increase of 30% in fashion and electronics.

Simon Wright, CEO, Virgin Entertainment Group, adds, “we’d been looking for a strong investment firm to work with to continue the successful repositioning achieved by Virgin Megastores USA. Related has a strong track record of investment and shares Virgin’s values.”

The corporate acquisition is another example of Related’s value-added investment strategy. In 2006 Related acquired Equinox Holding Inc., an operator of upscale fitness clubs and spas in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and South Florida. That same year, Related Cos. was part of an investor group that brought leading international developer and operator of destination resorts, casinos and luxury hotels Kerzner International Ltd. private.

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