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Demand for space is increasing among retailers, Simon execs say

Demand for mall space is accelerating among a broad range of tenant types, and one may even emerge to fill the void created by the blowup of Toys R Us Inc., Simon Property Group Inc. President and COO Rick Sokolov said on an earnings conference call.

Sokolov said the company has seen increasing interest from online retailers, international business, existing tenants and their brand extensions, as well as retailers that have not previously had relationships with the mall real estate investment trust.

"That is speeding our pipeline, and I think you're seeing that as you walk our properties," Sokolov said.

The company reported year-over-year earnings gains and raised its full-year 2018 guidance in its release for second-quarter earnings.

In the call's question-and-answer session, Sokolov said Simon is working with several retailers seeking to replace the specialty store component that Toys R Us occupied in the company's outlet portfolio. In particular, he said the company is directly working with toy manufacturers that are focused on distributing their goods through outlet properties.

"It would shock me if there's not a toy retailer that re-emerges from the Toys R Us debacle because I do think that there is a reason to buy toys in the physical environment," Chairman and CEO David Simon added. "The Toys thing was a debacle of massive proportions, but there's no question ... there's a hundred people that are out there that are thinking about how to create the new generational physical toy-retail experience."