It's official: Japanese fast-fashion retailer UNIQLO is coming to Canada. Its first two Canadian locations will open in the fall of 2016. More locations will follow as lease negotiations continue.
Uniqlo's Toronto Eaton Centre flagship will locate next to H&M at the corner of Yonge Street and Dundas Street West. It will be directly north of the mall's new 213,000 square foot Nordstrom store, scheduled to open in the fall of 2016. The two-level store will be accessed via the mall's main entrance near Dundas Street, with approximately 1/3 of the store being on the ground floor and the remaining 2/3 being upstairs. Saks Fifth Avenue will also open at Toronto Eaton Centre in 2016, occupying 150,000 square feet over four floors on the Yonge Street side of the Hudson's Bay building. Below, we've indicated where Uniqlo will locate in Toronto Eaton Centre.
Uniqlo will compete with neighbouring fast-fashion retailer H&M, as well as Zara and TopShop/Top Man, all located within the downtown Toronto mall. Los Angeles-based fast-fashion brand Forever 21 is also just up the street. Canada's first location for Japanese minimalist retailer MUJI is across Dundas Street from Toronto Eaton Centre, with some clothing styles noticeably similar to those carried at Uniqlo.
According to a press release, the Toronto Eaton Centre flagship store will carry a comprehensive selection of premium denim, Supima cotton T-shirts, Polo's and fleeces, as well as Uniqlo's proprietary collections: AIRism, HEATTECH, and Ultra-Light Down.
"We're very pleased that UNIQLO has chosen the city of Toronto as its first entry into Canada and will be opening at Toronto Eaton Centre in the Fall of next year,” said Ron Wratschko, Executive Vice President of Operations at landlord Cadillac Fairview.
Uniqlo's Yorkdale Shopping Centre flagship will span two floors at the north end of Yorkdale's new $331 million, 298,000 square foot Nordstrom Wing, scheduled to open in the fall of 2016. Uniqlo will be joined by a number of first-to-market retailers in the new wing, and we'll discuss these at a later date. Below are plans showing where Uniqlo will locate within Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
“We are very excited to welcome UNIQLO to Canada. Canadian shoppers and fashion enthusiasts have been anticipating this news for a while. I’m very proud that Yorkdale will be introducing UNIQLO to our shoppers,” said Claire Santamaria, Yorkdale Shopping Centre General Manager. “We have a proven track record for helping globally-renowned brands enter Canada for the first time and we’re very much looking forward to supporting the launch of UNIQLO in the same way.”
“Yorkdale Shopping Centre is one of the highest performing shopping centers in North America,” said Larry Meyer, CEO of UNIQLO USA and Canada. “We’re delighted to join this thriving fashion and retail epicenter bringing customers a comfortable and welcoming shopping environment and the high-quality, fashion apparel that UNIQLO is known for around the world.”
“Uniqlo is growing and I thought — we all thought — that Canada was a terrific market, especially starting in Toronto,” said Mr. Meyer. “It’s in reasonable proximity to our New York City flagship store on 5th (Avenue) and we thought it would be a natural expansion. My past has shown Canadians to be open people and very willing to welcome new brands,” he said. “I believe we have unique products with Uniqlo. We’re not just a mass merchandiser of branded goods. Our products are our brand."
Uniqlo's choice of American locations can be considered an indication of what it wants in Canada: prime retail space on busy streets and in prominent malls. Expect large Canadian Uniqlo flagships, as well as some smaller mall-based stores.
Mr. Meyer indicates that Vancouver could be the next Canadian market for Uniqlo, as well as various Canadian cities.
Sources inform us that Uniqlo is talking to various Canadian landlords as it searches for Canadian retail space. In March of 2014, the Financial Post reported that Uniqlo was in talks to open at Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre, and the article's source was obviously correct. Toronto and Vancouver are ideal cities for the Japanese retailer: both see exceptionally high retail sales, large Asian populations, and considerable Uniqlo brand awareness. Other desirable markets include Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary, and possibly Ottawa and Winnipeg, as the company continues expanding.
Uniqlo's goal is to become the world's top-selling fashion retailer. As its popularity increases, it could meet this goal within the next several years. Currently, Spanish-owned Inditex (owner of Zara and other brands) holds that title.
Uniqlo currently operates 40 stores in the United States, including 26 locations on the east coast and 14 locations on the west coast. Many more will follow as Uniqlo expands into the American midwest this fall, when its second-largest U.S. location, measuring 60,000 square feet, opens on Chicago's North Michigan Avenue.
Besides its American stores, Uniqlo has about 1,500 stores globally in Japan, Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. Canada will be Uniqlo's 18th market.
Uniqlo is a brand of Japanese retail holding company Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., which designs, manufactures and sells clothing under various brands including Theory and Helmut Lang, in almost 2,900 stores worldwide.
In June of 2014, we analysed locations in various Canadian cities where Uniqlo might choose to locate. The article received tens of thousands of readers, speaking to the popularity of the Japanese brand.
Yorkdale's leasing manager Greg Schmidt will be discussing the success of his mall at this year's Thought Leadership Conference. The one-day retail-focused event will merge industry professionals and academics, including networking, talks by representatives of Google, Microsoft and Pepsi Co. and a social event to be hosted by Retail Insider and the University of Alberta School of Retailing. The conference takes place March 6 in a hotel connected to the terminal at Edmonton International Airport.
We'll keep you updated as we learn more on Uniqlo's Canadian store expansion.