Esprit Re-Enters Canada, Plans National Expansion

West Edmonton Mall store. Photo: supplied

West Edmonton Mall store. Photo: supplied

Fashion brand Esprit has re-entered the North American market, having just opened its first location on the continent in Edmonton. The brand has partnered with Montreal-based Freemark Apparel Brands to coordinate expanding Esprit's Canadian operations. 

The 2,000 square foot West Edmonton Mall store, featuring womenswear only, is strategically located between Samsung Experience Store and Oakley on the mall's second level. Two doors down is Lululemon's highest selling store worldwide, boasting higher annual revenue than some large department stores. This month, Esprit also opened its second Canadian location at Ivanhoé Cambridge's Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby, BC, measuring about 2,500 square feet and featuring both men's and women's collections. Both stores feature casual west coast-inspired interiors with natural wood finishings, designed in Germany where Esprit's corporate office is located. 

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Esprit was founded in California in 1968, and retails clothing for men, women and children. Collections range from casual to dressy. The brand exited North America in 2012 and last year, partnered with Freemark Apparel Brands to re-enter the market. Freemark's Vice President of sales and co-owner, Lawrence Routtenberg, said that Esprit's previous store locations were often quite large and this time around, stores will generally be in the 1,500 to 2,500 square foot range to create more of an intimate boutique feel. 

West Edmonton Mall store. Photo: supplied

West Edmonton Mall store. Photo: supplied

Click for interactive West Edmonton Mall map.

Click for interactive West Edmonton Mall map.

Mr. Routtenberg revealed that long-term, Esprit will look to carefully open freestanding Canadian stores, while being respectful to the brand's roughly 250 Canadian wholesale specialty accounts. Ultimately, he said that Canada could see about 30 or so Esprit stores, though exact numbers would be contingent on opportunity and the economy. Esprit wants only the 'best' locations for its stores and as a result, top malls will be targeted. For example, this fall, Esprit is confirmed to be opening its third Canadian store at Mississauga's Square One Shopping Centre. Urban street front locations may also be considered, in such locations at Saint Catherine Street in Montreal, Robson Street in Vancouver and Queen Street West in Toronto. Eventually, outlet stores could be added to the mix, he said. 

Canadian Retail News From Around The Web: May 11, 2016