CBL rebrands itself as CBL Properties to better fit its strategy

CBL rebrands itself as CBL Properties to better fit its strategy

October 5th, 2017 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

CBL President and CEO Stephen Lebovitz introduces his father, CBL Chairman Charles B. Lebovitz during festivities in August celebrating Hamilton Place mall's 30th anniversary. Also present of the stage, from left are Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke (obscured), Hamilton Place Marketing Director Kim Lyons (obscured), Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, singer Tiffany Darwich, and CBL Senior Vice President Allan L. Lebovitz.

Photo by Robin Rudd /Times Free Press.

A Chattanooga company with deep roots in the city is rebranding itself to better fit its strategy.

CBL & Associates Properties Inc. will call itself CBL Properties moving ahead as the company's sites become more than just retail or shopping centers.

"They are evolving through the addition of more food, entertainment, service, fitness and other new uses, and we are actively exploring adding hotels, medical, office, residential and education components," said CBL Chief Executive Stephen Lebovitz.

He said that CBL, which operates Hamilton Place mall and Northgate Mall in Chattanooga, along with other properties nationwide, is proud of its history and previous success. But Lebovitz said the company also is committed to the ongoing evolution required to generate future growth.

Stephen Lebovitz

Stephen Lebovitz

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

CBL & Associates Properties headquarters are in Chattanooga.

CBL & Associates Properties headquarters are in Chattanooga.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Since last December, the company internally went through a review, conducting surveys, interviews, and working groups while vetting the change with mall staff, company officers and others, Lebovitz said.

"Now we're excited to bring it to completion and bring it publicly," he said.

CBL spokeswoman Stacey Keating said the company legally will retain the name CBL & Associates Properties Inc., while using CBL Properties in its marketing.

The company also will keep "CBL" as its stock symbol, she said.

Lebovitz said CBL & Associates goes back to the formation of the company in 1978 by his father, CBL Chairman Charles Lebovitz, and five partners. Charles Lebovitz and just one other partner, Ben Landress, remain with the company, Stephen Lebovitz said.

But, he said, the change is more about how the CBL brand now reflects its new strategy. Lebovitz cited the redevelopment of its properties and the broadening of their uses beyond traditional retail to become "gathering places for their respective communities."

The company will use the change in updated materials such as business cards and templates for its marketing to help give CBL "a more forward-looking type of presence," he said.

"As technology continues to drive change, CBL must not only adjust its operations to compete and grow market share, but also connect more directly with consumers and other partners," said Lebovitz.

The CEO said employees like the change, and he thinks the investment community will as well. CBL already has shed underperforming properties and upgraded its balance sheet.

The costs associated with the change aren't significant, he said.

Earlier this year, Lebovitz told analysts that "reinvent is the word of the year at CBL," adding that plans are to turn a growing number of its properties into "vibrant town centers."

CBL's stock price has increased more than 10 percent since May, but the closing share price of CBL on Wednesday at $8.49 per share is still down down nearly 29 percent from a year ago and is 82 percent below the all-time peak price reached by CBL in early 2007.

Investors have discounted the value of shopping center developers as many consumers go online to shop. Also, Lebovitz said, the company was hit with an accelerated number of store bankruptcies often due to unsustainable debt loads. He added that there are too many clothing retailers in the malls.

CBL's portfolio is comprised of 121 properties totaling 75.5 million square feet across 27 states, including 78 enclosed, outlet and open-air retail centers and 14 properties managed for third parties.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.