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The Best Retail Contractors in San Francisco

September 17, 2018 13 Min Read

Online shopping may be the rave these days, but brick and mortar stores still offer a personalized experience that consumers flock to. The benefit of walking out of the store with the purchased goods on hand is still attractive to many – so much so that places like San Francisco’s Union Street and Market Street continue to be the heart of the retail industry. These are busy, highly urbanized hubs surrounded by modern offices and coffee shops that guarantee continuous traffic to the stores.

Read on to learn more about the top retail contractors in San Francisco; those who executed the designs and finishes for Prada, Armani, Valentino, and other flagship retail stores.

Shawmut Design and Construction

11390 West Olympic Boulevard, Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90064

Shawmut Design and Construction doesn’t just offer on-time delivery or value maximization; in their words, “We’re not just talking about turning over an incredible project, which we’ll do. We’re talking about the process – making sure you’re happy every step of the way. No wonder over 80% of our business comes from repeat business.”

The firm has completed projects for various flagship and retail stores for luxury, specialty, and jewelry brands, including Burberry, Cartier, and Graff Diamonds, and multinational retail giants Uniqlo and Express.

Project by Shawmut Design and Construction

Shawmut has done work for high-fashion brands Hugo Boss, Bottega Veneta, Kate Spade, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Valentino, and also for jewelers Tiffany & Co. David Yurman, Harry Winston, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Seiko across the country. Their work has appeared in Vogue, Elle, design:retail, ENR, Interior Design, WWD, and Los Angeles Times.

Shawmut has also worked on projects in different industries including academic, cultural, corporate offices, healthcare, hospitality, luxury homes, and sports venues. The firm offers integrated project delivery, design/build services, general contracting, and sustainable options for green projects. The firm currently maintains nine offices in cities including Boston, Chicago, New York, Miami, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.

Truebeck Construction

333 Bryant Street, Suite 140, San Francisco, CA 94107

Truebeck Construction is a San Francisco-based, prolific builder of numerous projects in various building industries. Sean Truesdale and Sean Becker co-founded the firm in 2007 with the aim of disrupting the ordinary by improving the present building practices and standards. The firm offers full-service general construction management which includes pre-construction services, interiors, and virtual design.

Though the firm’s work centers on tenant improvements and data centers for leading San Francisco-based tech firms, they have also built a reputation in the retail construction industry. They constructed the Market Square’s retail lobby renovation and shell build-out.

Project by Truebeck Construction

Truebeck also worked on the 14,000 sq ft., two-story retail space for high-end Japanese retailer Muji, which sells household consumer goods, and a 1,300 sq ft retail store for gaming company Razer -the company’s second largest store worldwide. It includes 20 unique gaming setups, audio listening stations, and a 16- by 9- ft video wall for gamers to watch streaming gameplay.

Truebeck received two nominations for the 2017 International Interior Design Awards (IIDA), and an Award of Excellence from the Society for Marketing Professional Services Marketing Communications.


260 Townsend Street, San Francisco, CA

Swinerton can boast of over a hundred years of experience; established in 1888, it has since a nurtured a working environment infused with integrity, passion, and excellence. The firm is 100% employee-owned, which ensures that each project is within the personal interest of its builders. Swinerton places high value on maintaining job safety with it 0.45 California EMR Safety Rating, and landing 1st place in the 2016 AGC Safety Award.

The firm constructed the William-Sonoma retail store in Union Square, San Francisco, completing seismic retrofitting while also working out its historic preservation. The firm also worked on the innovative part-store and part-museum Target Open House and the City Target at the Metreon. In addition, Swinerton worked on the Neiman Marcus at Broadway Plaza, the de Young Museum, and several restaurants including Union Street Gastropub and Restaurant 55 Degrees.

Project by Swinerton

The firm offers full-service general construction management of different projects ranging from small tenant improvements, to ground-up construction of residential towers and even solar power plants. Swinerton is especially proud of its sustainable works. The firm’s projects earned them a Georgia Award of Safety Excellence, Platinum-level STEP by the Associated Builders and Contractors of Georgia, AGC of Washington’s 2018 Construction Excellence Award and Safety Excellence Award.

Fisher Construction

601 California Street, Suite 300 San Francisco, CA 94108

Fisher Construction is a builder of high-quality projects ranging from multi-family complexes, corporate tenant improvements, and auto dealerships, to civic and education projects in San Francisco. Founder Robert Fisher started as a residential contractor in the 1970s. By the 2000s, his construction services had expanded to include more complex, urban projects. Today, Roberts remains the CEO of the firm, with Tom Perko as the chief operating officer. The firm offers full-service construction management from pre-construction, estimating, site logistics, feasibility studies, and construction management, to document control and green building options.

By the mid-70s, Fisher’s residential projects had grown to include commercial projects, especially retail builds due to the shopping mall construction boom at that time. Fisher built the 3,300 sq ft Michael Kors retail store in San Francisco Centre in collaboration with the Kenneth Park Architects, and the French skincare and cosmetic brand NARS in 2050 Fillmore Street. The firm transformed this former millinery into a boutique that features an all-glass storefront and custom furniture.

Project by Fisher Construction

Fisher remodeled a four-story Market Street building for the Old Navy Flagship store, and another for the cosmetic giant Sephora. For their work in Hugo Boss, the firm won a first place award for store renovation. The firm also built the retailer stores of luxury brands Maiyet, Hugo Boss, Henri Bendel, Lancome, Victoria Secret, Tiffany & Co., and Ermenegildo Zegna. Retail Traffic ranked the firm 9th for its interior build-outs.

Engineering News Record commended the firm for its work on the Golden Gate and Crissy Field Center, and Fisher also received the Allied North America Safety Excellence Award, and the Superior Award in Design (SADI) for their Gateway PC Store.

Plant Construction

300 Newhall Street, San Francisco, CA

Plant Construction is an award-winning, full-service general construction company based in San Francisco. Since its establishment in 1947, the firm handled diverse large-scale construction projects from multiple-storied corporate buildings, hotels, to music and school structures in both the public and private centers. Partners David Plant and Craig Allison currently manage the firm.

The firm’s work in retail construction includes high-end brands such as the San Francisco branch of English fashion house Mulberry at 166 Grant Street. The renovation of the 12,000 sq ft retail space, in collaboration with Gensler Architects, includes an art gallery and offices. The firm also worked on the 11,000 sq ft store space for Prada and the luxury jeweler and fashion retailer Bulgari. The firm sourced many of the jeweler’s store finishes in Europe which required extensive coordination and logistics. The firm also made the sales center for luxury car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz.

Project by Plant Construction

Plant Construction won the Best Rehab/Renovation of the Year given by the San Francisco Business Times in 2014, the Silver Award in Building Design + Construction’s 2014 Reconstruction Awards, and the National Architecture and Engineering Award from American Institute of Steel Construction in 2010. The firm’s works have appeared extensively in media outlets such as Architectural Record, SF Chronicle, ENR, Forbes, Times Herald, SF Gate, and Berkeleyside.

Build Group

57 Minna Street San Francisco, CA 94103

Build Group pitches itself as a bold, passionate general contracting firm based in San Francisco. Their dedication has led to the completion of numerous projects spanning the residential, mixed-use, commercial office, retail, and health science industries. The firm, founded in 2007 and let by Scott Brauninger, has grown exponentially since then, handling projects for top-tier clients. The firm ranked 19th on the list of the largest commercial contractors in the Bay Area in 2014 by BizJournal, and was included as one of the Best Places to Work by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

The firm has completed projects for numerous retailers in San Francisco, including high-end brands such Jimmy Choo, for whom a 1906 building was renovated into a flagship store in Union Square, and jeweler Harry Winston, for whom a 14,000 sq ft, three-story building was completed. . The firm also built flagship stores for Anne Fontaine and John Varvatos, and retailer branch for Kate Spade.

Project by Build Group

Build Group recently completed projects for bag retailer Carolina Herrera, fashion retailer Club Monaco, and developed the two-floor, flagship store for Swedish retailer H&M in Powell Street.

Build Group’s construction teams are well-versed in project delivery methods, and the firm offers cost-effective and efficient structural, MEP designs, and creative solutions. The firm makes use of digital support systems such as Procore, Plangrid, AutoCAD/Revit, and Bluebeam PDF Markup. Build Group also puts a premium on workplace safety, as they continually strengthen their safety culture through training.

Trainor Commercial Construction, Inc

1925 Francisco Blvd. East, Suite 21, San Rafael, CA 94901

Trainor Commercial Construction, Inc is one of San Francisco’s leading commercial retail contractors, and a frequent collaborator to some of today’s largest retailers. The firm has completed projects for luxury brands such as Neiman Marcus, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Kate Spade, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Saks Fifth Avenue, Chanel, and Porsche Design.

The firm also worked with known clothing retailers Ann Taylor, Hugo Boss, Macy’s, The Gap, Banana Republic, Polo Ralph Lauren, cosmetic retailers such as Estee Lauder, MAC, Dior Cosmetic, Sephora, and Tom Ford Beauty, and a host of other retailers in the home furnishing and specialty businesses.

The firm handles new store construction, open-store renovation, and theroll-out of hundreds of store branches. Brian Trainor founded the firm in 2001. A grandson of a San Francisco-based builder, Brian was quickly inducted to construction and started out with hanging drywall and framing.

Project by Trainor Commercial Construction, Inc

The firm’s services include full-service construction management, including site surveys, permit expediting, constructability review, bidding, and analysis, as well as logistics planning and cost control. The firm was awarded an Association for Retail Environments (ARE) design award for their restoration of the RH Boston and were featured in ARE Retail Environments and Architectural Digest.

The firm’s work with Gensler won awards from the Retail Design Institute, including the Innovation Award for Sustainability, as well as the Brand Spaces award for their Holly Hunt Showroom.

Dickinson Commercial Construction

6184 Innovation Way, Carlsbad, CA 92009

Dickinson Commercial Construction has become a leader in retail construction with the completion of nearly one hundred flagship and commercial establishments; both fashion retail and restaurant. Frank Naliboff founded the firm in 1994 and has since developed and maintained business relations with top, multinational brands, most notably European luxury retailers. The firm has recently opened its New York office, working to expand its East Coast presence.

Dickinson completed San Francisco-based construction projects for German prestige watch-maker A. Lange & Sohne, as well as Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Coach, Emporio Armani, J. Crew, Louis Vuitton on Market Street, MAC, Ralph Lauren, Prada in Post Street, Yves Saint Lauren on Geary Street, Sephora, two branches of Swarovski on Geary Street and Market Street, Zara, and a Tiffany & Co flagship store on Union Street. Across the United States, the firm has also completed projects for Cartier, Valentino, Hermes, Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs, Fendi, Barneys New York, Chanel, Nordstrom, Balenciaga, Burberry, and technology giant, Apple. Dickinson’s Cartier Mansion received significant attention for its design, with stories appearing in the New York Times, GQ Magazine, and Luxury Daily.

Project by Dickinson Commercial Construction

The firm offers bid-build to full-service program management of ground-up flagships, historical renovations, and tenant improvement build-outs. The firm builds with the standards set by the US Green Building Council; the Chanel, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes stores built by Dickinson are all LEED-certified. The firm’s work has appeared in Los Angeles Ranked, Architectural Digest, and WWD.


  • Jake Gustafson

    Jake has served as Senior Editor at San Francisco Architects and brings a wealth of experience rooted in his passion for building. Holding a degree in Construction Engineering Management from Oregon State University, he actively engaged in industry-related activities, including membership in the Associated General Contractors of America student chapter and participation in the Associated Schools in Construction student competition. Previously, Jake served as a project engineer for a prominent general contractor in Portland, where he played a pivotal role in various aspects of construction projects, from pre-construction to subcontractor management. His expertise extends to working on innovative projects, such as North America's largest CLT commercial building. Expertise: Commercial Construction, Commercial Remodeling, Home Design and Build Key Highlights: Editor at San Francisco Architects, Project Engineer for Portland-based general contractor, Field Engineer for the largest CLT commercial building in North America Education: Oregon State University - Degree in Construction Engineering Management

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