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AMP Group to take two brands beyond I-Drive this year, says COO

Alejandro Pezzini, COO of AMP Group, at the NASCAR I-Drive Experience, one of the new additions by the company on North International Drive.
Alejandro Pezzini, COO of AMP Group, at the NASCAR I-Drive Experience, one of the new additions by the company on North International Drive. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda)

Orlando-based AMP Group plans to take its Perfumeland and I-Drive NASCAR brands to new markets this year -- expanding the company's brick-and-mortar presence beyond Central Florida for the first time -- and is open to private investors to boost expansion, the company's COO told GrowthSpotter.

Owner-operator of eight retail businesses and four shopping center properties on North International Drive, AMP has grown from a lone Latin American family store that opened in 1995 to a multicultural retail giant, with more than 250,000 square feet of commercial space on North I-Drive. The company generated $78 million in revenue in 2014, and has boasted an average annual growth rate of 20 percent in recent years, according to the COO.

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AMP will pursue store openings in New York City and Miami for Perfurmeland over the next two years, eyeing the second and third most popular markets in the United States for Brazilian tourists, after Orlando.

"Those markets present a similar demographic of Brazilian and Latin Americans that we've done so well with here," said Chief Operating Officer Alejandro Pezzini. "Some of those tourists that go to Miami or New York don't go to Orlando, but the tour groups that go to those cities will instantly recognize our store brand from Orlando."

The I-Drive NASCAR Indoor Kart Racing attraction, which AMP opened in January one block off the main thoroughfare on Vanguard Street, occupies an 88,000-square-foot warehouse the company acquired four years ago during the economic downturn.

"We weren't sure what to do with it at the time, but we knew the economy would turn and the space had near-limitless potential," Pezzini said.

AMP invested $5 million in the acquisition and interior build out of the warehouse for both I-Drive NASCAR and a nondescript corporate headquarters next door. The attraction has drawn roughly 7,000 visitors per month through its first four months, a figure AMP wants to eventually grow to 20,000.

AMP has the exclusive rights from NASCAR to expand its indoor kart business through the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. The company already has interested investment groups in four North American markets with which it may close expansion deals this year, including Texas and New York City.

"We're open to outside private investors, especially for the indoor kart business to move into new markets. They would have to be minority investors, with AMP keeping a majority stake," Pezzini said. Depending on the size of the facility in a new market, investors should expect to put up $5 million to $10 million.

AMP built its name on North I-Drive with its Perfumeland store, which at 8,000 square feet of retail space sold more than $53 million in beauty, hair care, fashion and electronics products last year. Athletic Planet, the company's 2,500-square-foot sporting goods store located in the same shopping center as Perfumeland, topped $5 million in sales last year.

AMP invested $10 million in recent years to acquire and revitalize the Orlando Crossings East shopping center on North I-Drive, a property that is now at full occupancy with 20 tenants and long-term leases. The company spent another $1.5 million to construct the building on that site for Banco do Brasil Americas' first branch in Orlando. The bank opened in February with a long-term lease.

AMP is now in the midst of a $2.5 million renovation of the former distressed strip mall next door, financed through capital investment by the company's partners.

Orlando Crossings West (also known as Orlando Crossings Phase 2), located on the 5500 block of International Drive, will feature more than 46,000 square feet of retailer space, including a 400-seat Chinese-Japanese buffet, a second unit for AMP's chain Athletic Planet, a motorcycle accessories store, vitamin store Vitaflex, and Lux nightclub (relocating from across the street).

The complex will be anchored by I-Drive's first full-scale supermarket, with Newark, N.J.-based A&J Seabra Supermarkets beginning build out in May on a 17,000-square-foot store that should open in the fourth quarter this year.

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