Upscale Swiss menswear brand Strellson plans to eventually operate several free-standing stores across Canada. We spoke with Strellson Canada President Mark Altow to learn more about Strellson's ambitious Canadian expansion plans.
Founded in 1984 and owned by Holy Fashion Group (the original owner of German brand Hugo Boss), Strellson is Switzerland's largest menswear manufacturer. It produces mid-to-high priced dressy and casual menswear, as well as accessories and related products. Its target market is men aged 25 to 40, and it retails in about 40 countries worldwide.
Strellson currently operates two Canadian stores. Its Toronto flagship, which opened in the fall of 2012, will soon expand by 800 square feet to about 2,300 square feet. Strellson's second Canadian location opened last year at Toronto's Bayview Village and according to Mr. Altow, the store will soon move to a larger space due to exceptional sales. Strellson's third free-standing Canadian store will open this fall at the base of Vancouver's 745 Thurlow tower, alongside Italian luxury brands Versace and Brunello Cucinelli.
Strellson's Bayview Village replacement unit will measure over 1,300 square feet, up from its current 1,000 square foot mall location. The new store is strategically located between retailers Pink Tartan and Roots Canada, across the hall from American fashion brand Brooks Brothers. The Vancouver Strellson store will be only slightly smaller than its Bloor Street flagship. Measuring over 2,200 square feet, the Alberni Street-facing boutique will showcase the brand's new store design, flooded by natural sunlight from the stores ample windows.
Mr. Altow confirmed that in the summer of 2016, Strellson will open two more Canadian locations. One will be located at Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre, in the mall's new wing which will be anchored by Nordstrom. Strellson will also open at Ottawa's Rideau Centre, in the mall's expansion which will be anchored by Quebec City-based retailer La Maison Simons.
Longer-term, Mr. Altow said that Strellson is looking at a variety of Canadian markets, seeking retail space on busy streets and in malls in the 1,800 square foot to 2,000 square foot range. He says that cities he's contemplating for new free-standing stores include Edmonton, Calgary, Montreal and Winnipeg.
Mr. Altow mentioned that Strellson's free-standing locations are enhancing its wholesale operations by building brand awareness. Not only are sales at free-standing Strellson stores booming, sales at local wholesale accounts are also increasing as Strellson opens in new markets. Mr. Altow explained that men are receptive to the fashion brand and that increased sales are partly due to increasing brand awareness.
Retail partner Hudson's Bay also currently operates almost 20 Strellson shop-in-stores, all licensed by the brand. One exception is the Yorkdale Shopping Centre Bay location, where Strellson operates a concession. Mr. Altow said that his company is looking to possibly operate more Hudson's Bay concessions, given its success at Yorkdale.
Although Strellson currently lacks any free-standing U.S. stores, the brand operates at five (soon to be six) American Lord & Taylor locations. Strellson will launch at Saks Fifth Avenue in the United States this fall, as well as on Saks' e-commerce site. Strellson is also looking to open free-standing American stores in the near future, in markets such as New York City, Boston and Chicago.