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Stellar Partners To Acquire Avila Retail

Tampa-based Stellar Partners, Inc., a subsidiary of HMSHost Corp., has agreed to acquire Albuquerque-based Avila Retail Development & Management LLC. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Avila is an award-winning airport retailer known for developing innovative concepts including Mosaic, Earth Spirit, and Indigenous. The concepts create a sense of place by showcasing local artists and jewelers. Avila’s portfolio includes 25 specialty retail stores in four airports: Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ), Denver International Airport (DEN), Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO).  

The sale caps 28 years of operations in airports for owners Kathleen and John Avila, who started their retail venture in 1974 selling Native American jewelry at a flea market in Albuquerque. They transitioned to airport retail in 1990.

The couple will retire once the sale is finalized. Kathleen Avila says she has been “looking for an exit strategy for a very long time,” and that Stellar is an excellent fit culturally.

“It’s good match and a good opportunity to have what we’ve built carried on into the future,” she says. “They value our specialty concepts and the quality of the company, and they value the culture and the people.” She also notes that Avila’s strength in western U.S. markets complements Stellar’s concentration in the eastern part of the country.

Stellar Founder Susan Stackhouse says the acquisition is “a key part of Stellar’s strategic growth plan.”

“It broadens our retail portfolio and delivers on our objective to grow our business in North American airports,” Stackhouse says. “Avila is a regional leader in specialty, news, and convenience retail, and their expertise will help us develop dynamic new concepts.”

The transaction is expected to close in late summer.