Value-priced Gap-owned fashion retailer Old Navy is expanding into Canada in a big way this year, with store openings to continue over the next several years. The retailer currently operates 78 stores in Canada, and there are plans for a further eight this year alone. Sources say that by the year 2020, Old Navy hopes to operate at least 100 stores in this country, if not more.
It’s an impressive and ambitious goal, at a time when a number of retailers have been closing stores and in some cases, exiting Canada entirely. Old Navy’s wide assortment of value-priced, casual clothing for men, women and children, are apparently a hit. “Business is booming,” says one source at Old Navy, speaking to the company’s plans for an unprecedented Canadian store expansion. Old Navy’s success may by further evidence that Canada’s retail is polarizing — while a number of mid-market retailers are struggling and in some instances shuttering, higher-end and value-priced retailers continue to see success.
In May of this year, Old Navy will open two stores in Western Canada — at Calgary’s CrossIron Mills, as well as at the new Outlet Collection Winnipeg. CrossIron Mills is classified as a ‘hybrid outlet centre’ (mixing full-price and outlet stores), while the Winnipeg centre, scheduled to open on May 3 of the year, will be Western Canada’s second American-style designer outlet mall.
A source at Old Navy confirms that a further six stores are expected to open in Canada over the next nine months or so. In October of this year, Old Navy will open its first store in Sherbrooke, Quebec, at Carrefour de l'Estrie. Other markets set to get new Old Navy stores include the Montreal region (three stores: CF Galeries d’Anjou, Les Avenues Vaudreuil and Carrefour Angrignon), Toronto (Toronto Premium Outlets), as well as a location in suburban Edmonton.
As Canada continues to embrace Old Navy stores, a source says that the company’s president Sonia Syngal has set a goal of opening 100 locations by the year 2020. If opportunities present, the company could actually end up opening more, according to the source. As of now, Old Navy has 78 stores across Canada.
Old Navy’s ambitious expansion speaks to a level of optimism, and also may provide evidence that there’s a continued polarization in the Canadian retail industry. Value-priced brands such as Zara, H&M, Forever 21, Uniqlo and others continue to expand, while off-price retailers such as Winners, Marshalls and Saks OFF 5TH also continue to open stores in an aggressive fashion. At the same time, luxury brands are opening mono-brand stores in Canada’s largest cities, as the upper-end of the Canadian population continues to see exceptional income growth. Mid-market retailers — specifically those that fail to establish a value proposition — continue to close as competition increases for a limited piece of Canada’s retail pie.