Upscale Montreal-based leather and fashion brand m0851 is expanding its base of stores as well as its real estate strategy, as it increasingly focuses on opening in malls. Its next location will be in a prominent retail space, located at an entrance to North America’s busiest shopping centre -- CF Toronto Eaton Centre.
Currently under construction and expected to open in early December, m0851’s Eaton Centre unit will be adjacent to the busy ground-level Queen Street entrance to the downtown shopping centre. The 3,000 square foot m0851 square foot store replaces footwear retailer Town Shoes, which relocated in September to a slightly larger space within the mall. The new m0851 features exceptional street exposure from multiple windows along Queen Street West (just west of Yonge Street) as well as a strategic mall entrance from within the shopping centre. Directly across the street are the main entrances to Canada’s flagship Saks Fifth Avenue and Hudson’s Bay stores.
Marine Godfroy, m0851's Director of Marketing, explained that the company is looking to open more shopping centre locations in Canada, after initially focusing primarily on freestanding street-front units. The company started off by opening stores on ‘secondary arteries’ in locations such as on Maisonneuve West in Montreal and on Avenue Road in Toronto’s Yorkville area. After seeing tremendous success at its CF Carrefour Laval shopping centre as well as heavy footfall at its recently opened Montreal Complexe Les Ailes unit, the company has been reevaluating strategy, according to Ms. Godfroy. While street-front stores may attract shoppers as destinations, mall stores often enjoy heavy foot traffic from passers-by, she said. Not only do stores in busy malls provide the opportunity for high-volume sales, they also help to increase brand awareness through exceptional visibility.
Oakmont Real Estate Services represents m0851 as brokerage in Canada, and negotiated the CF Toronto Eaton Centre deal on behalf of the retailer. Future m0851 locations will ideally be in the 1,000 square foot to 2,500 square foot range, according to Oakmont’s website.
The United States will also increasingly become a focus for m0851, Ms. Godfroy explained, with the company targeting cities such as Washington DC, Chicago and San Francisco. As of yet, no locations have been secured in these cities.
The company operates on a ‘hybrid’ ownership model, with some stores being corporately owned while others are franchised. Ms. Godfroy explained that m0851 could open more stores in Asia and Europe as potential franchisees show interest.
The m0851 brand was founded in 1987 by Frédéric Mamarbachi, and its name represents the first initial of his surname, as well as his birth month and year. The company designs and manufactures leather bags, accessories, jackets and outerwear. It started out manufacturing leather belts under the nameplate 'Rugby North America' and in 2003, changed its name to better reflect a refined, urban brand identity. Its head office is in Montreal's trendy Mile End neighbourhood. Its products are designed and manufactured in Montreal, and its store interiors are also designed in-house.
The company now operates 22 stores globally, with 11 of those in Canada. Its Canadian stores are located in Montreal (4 stores including one in Laval), Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto (2 stores), and Vancouver (2 stores) (check). International cities featuring m0851 include New York City, Santa Monica CA, Boston, Madrid Spain, Tokyo (2 stores), Nagoya, Osaka, Hong Kong (3 stores) and Beijing. M0851 also distributes their collections through a select network of retailers in 35 countries, and has an e-commerce site.