Popular off-price footwear retailer DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse is continuing with its store expansion, after it entered Canada last year by acquiring the majority interest of Canadian retailer Town Shoes. Last week we interviewed DSW Canada CEO Bruce Dinan at the opening of the retailer's 10th Canadian location at Sherwood Park Mall outside of Edmonton. Mr. Dinan revealed that the company plans to open up to 50 Canadian stores over the next several years, and that DSW's search for real estate has become easier since Target exited Canada last winter.
DSW's Sherwood Park Mall location is currently the chain's smallest Canadian store. While most locations are in the 20,000 to 22,000 square foot range, Sherwood Park's DSW measures just under 15,000 square feet. It appears quite spacious, however, featuring the retailer's typical 20,000+ pairs of shoes. Mr. Dinan explained how the store's fixtures were moved forward within the somewhat shallow space, creating more usable square footage while making the store appear larger.
Mr. Dinan explained how DSW's search for Canadian real estate has become a bit easier now that Target is no longer operating in Canada. More retail space has become available, and landlords are now even more eager to secure traffic-generating anchors such as DSW. Sherwood Park Mall lost its Target store last spring, which resulted in dead space and reduced foot traffic. Mall tenants we interviewed expressed gratitude at DSW's arrival, while expressing concern that Target's space at the south end of the mall continues to be vacant. Tenants may not have to worry for long, however, as a source at landlord Primaris reveals that it is in talks with several potential replacement tenants.
We spoke with Antony Karabus, CEO of leading retail advisory firm HRC Advisory, and he said: “Town Shoes (DSW affiliate) is known as a well-managed chain that has been growing steadily for 50 plus years as a strong, reliable Canadian retail tenant. Now that it is having tremendous success operating DSW stores in Canada, with announced plans to open numerous locations, I am not surprised that landlords are finding the company to be a very attractive tenant. There are not many profitably growing retailers opening multiple 20,000+ square foot stores. This bodes well for Town Shoes to obtain the quality of locations they are seeking.”
On Thursday, September 17, DSW opens locations in suburban Toronto (Scarborough) and in Barrie, Ontario. Later this fall, another Toronto location will open near Sherway Gardens. Mr. Dinan said that DSW is finalizing lease negotiations for more stores, and that Retail Insider will be able to reveal DSW's next Canadian locations around the middle of October.