Uniqlo On Track for Canadian Debut

Rendering: Uniqlo

Rendering: Uniqlo

Popular Japanese retailer Uniqlo is on track to open its first two Canadian store locations this fall in Toronto. Representatives were in Toronto yesterday to present a preview of Uniqlo's fall collections, as well as provide details about the new Canadian stores. According to Uniqlo's Canadian COO as well as its Canadian broker, the Japanese brand will eventually expand throughout Canada. 

Uniqlo Canada Chief Operating Officer Yasuhiro Hayashi met with the press to discuss the new stores, as well as to profile the fall collection which, because of its technology, will provide warmth in cold Canadian winters. The brand's 'Heattech' innerwear line features moisture-wicking fabric that retains heat, and also features anti-odor properties. Women's and men's collections range from casual to dressy, including a variety of very soft cashmere sweaters as well as light-weight down jackets and vests. Uniqlo's fashions are known for being simple, affordable, and of high quality, and we predict that the company will do extremely well with its stores in Canada. 

Uniqlo's first Canadian store location will open in late September or early October at CF Toronto Eaton Centre. An exact date hasn't been set yet, according to Mr. Hayashi, as store construction can sometimes be unpredictable. The store will be located at the north end of the shopping centre between Nordstrom (opening September 16) and H&M, which recently saw a major expansion. Uniqlo will measure about 28,000 square feet over two levels, with access to the 10,000 square foot ground level being accessed from within CF Toronto Eaton Centre's Yonge and Dundas Street entrance, as per the floor plan below. 

CF Toronto Eaton Centre. Click image above for full PDF lease plan, via landlord Cadillac Fairview

CF Toronto Eaton Centre. Click image above for full PDF lease plan, via landlord Cadillac Fairview

Uniqlo's second Canadian store will open at Yorkdale Shopping Centre in October of this year, along with other retailers in the mall's new $331 million 300,000 square foot wing that will be anchored by Nordstrom. Mr. Hayashi said he expects that location to open just before Nordstrom, which opens to the public on October 21. Uniqlo will occupy about 24,000 square feet over two levels at Yorkdale and will be a neighbour with another Japanese retailer, Muji

Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Lease plan via landlord Oxford Properties.

Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Lease plan via landlord Oxford Properties.

Mr. Hayashi explained that Uniqlo's Canadian store expansion will be gradual, and that the company will look to create brand recognition before moving into new markets. Toronto is a terrific test market, he explained, given its size, influence and diverse population. 

Uniqlo's Canadian broker, Jeff Berkowitz of Aurora Realty Consultants, said that he's thrilled that Uniqlo is opening in Canada this year. He also explained that Toronto was picked as the introductory market for Uniqlo in Canada, and that he's now looking at Western Canadian real estate opportunities as the brand looks to expand Canada-wide at a controlled pace. He explained that every major Canadian market could be a great market for the brand, and that as customers get to know it, Uniqlo will become a staple in Canadian wardrobes. 

Uniqlo store in New York City. Photo: retaildesignblog.net

Uniqlo store in New York City. Photo: retaildesignblog.net

Farla Efros, President of leading retail consultancy HRC Advisory, thinks that Uniqlo will be a big success in Canada. She described Uniqlo as being "fun, relevant and uplifting", praising its product quality as well as its overall shopping experience and pricing strategy. She explained how Uniqlo's value proposition fills a void in the retail landscape by bridging the gap between upscale boutiques and fast-fashion, describing the brand positioning as being distinct, with its brand values being "ageless and gender-neutral". At a time when mid-priced retailers in Canada are being 'squeezed', Uniqlo's fashion-forward, quality, price and newness will resonate not only with teens/tweens/Millennials/Generation Z, but also with modern working women and men seeking staple fashions at reasonable price points, she said. 

Canadian Retail News From Around The Web: June 16, 2016