Calgary-based, FGL Sports-owned Sport Chek is continuing to open innovative flagship stores in Canada, following the opening of its first location in 2014. Last week, Sport Chek opened an impressive store on Vancouver's Robson Street and according to Vice President and head of Flagship and Special Projects, Eric Watt, several more flagships will open over the next three years.
The Robson Street flagship is unique in the way that it's designed, as well as how it opened, according to Mr. Watt. The three-level, 54,000 square foot store features an entrance 'portal' characteristic of Sport Chek's flagships but in a modified format to suit an existing streetfront structure. The prominent Robson Street building, located at the southeast corner of Robson and Howe Streets (across from Nordstrom) was, until the summer of 2015, occupied by book retailer Chapters. Because of the design of the existing structure, the portal was inserted into the glass prism. The store's opening week was also more 'event driven' than most openings according to Mr. Watt, with promotions for Fitbit and Nike last weekend, for example.
Robson Street is Sport Chek's fifth flagship location, along with previously opened stores at West Edmonton Mall, Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby BC, Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, and at Square One in Mississauga. Mr. Watt said that Sport Chek could open another seven or so Canadian flagship locations over the next three years, with the next set to open this summer at Toronto's CF Sherway Gardens (spanning about 75,000 square feet), next to Saks Fifth Avenue in retail space formerly occupied by Sears.
Moving forward, Mr. Watt confirmed that Sport Chek will open at least two more flagship locations in 2017, in malls already featuring smaller Sport Chek stores. One will involve expanding an existing location at Calgary's CF Market Mall to about 58,000 square feet, while a 53,000 square foot store will open at Park Royal in West Vancouver.
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Mr. Watt said that he'd like to see a large Sport Chek flagship somewhere in downtown Toronto, and that the company would need to find the right sized real estate for such an endeavour. Sport Chek currently operates a 15,000 square foot location at CF Toronto Eaton Centre which he said will see renovations to become a 'hero store' -- that is, a location featuring digital technology and other innovations, but lacking the square footage of a full flagship store, which are typically in the 45,000 to 80,000 square foot range.
Sport Chek's flagships reflect the most digitally-savvy store execution anywhere in the world, according to the company. Flagship stores feature digital installations to improve the customer experience, and it's paying off -- the company's first two flagships have seen double-digit annual growth. Sport Chek's first flagship opened at West Edmonton Mall in early 2014, measuring an impressive 80,000 square feet over two floors. A second flagship opened at Ivanhoé Cambridge's Metropolis at Metrotown in December of 2014, spanning about 48,000 square feet.