BeaverTails Turns To Outlet Malls For Growth

By Megan Harman

Iconic Canadian pastry brand BeaverTails is setting out to grow its presence in Canada and abroad, and the brand is targeting outlet malls as a key new avenue of growth.

BeaverTails specializes in quick-serve pastries and other desserts, as well as hot and cold beverages.

The chain of 136 locations has traditionally focused on positioning its locations in touristy areas such as ski resorts, amusement parks, beach towns and waterfront areas. Having already established a presence in most major tourist destinations in Canada, however, the company is now exploring other types of locations, such as outlet centres.

“We are opening up a new avenue to development in Canada, which is outlet shopping malls,” says Kristina Zappavigna, development director at BeaverTails. “It’s not necessarily something that we were looking to develop, but we happened to open one and it did very well, and have continued to do so in a few other malls since then.”

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Although traditional shopping malls haven’t provided a successful venue for BeaverTails in the past, outlet malls tend to attract a different type of shopper, Zappavigna notes.

“The outlet mall provides that impulse-driven customer, so that works well and speaks to our brand, because we’re such a treat,” she says. “So that works beautifully for us.”

So far, BeaverTails has locations at Toronto Premium Outlets, Tanger Outlets in Ottawa, Outlet Collection at Niagara and Philadelphia Premium Outlets in Pennsylvania. The company also has plans to open a location at Premium Outlets Montreal in the near future, and is exploring more potential outlet mall locations in the U.S., including Pittsburgh and Florida.

By 2020, BeaverTails’ goal is to grow its chain to 250 locations. The company has two types of locations: food service partners, which are located within attractions such as amusement parks, zoos, aquariums and ski resorts; and franchises, which include both mobile food trucks and permanent shops. 

Location is key for the company, according to Pino Di Ioia, CEO of BeaverTails.

“We are so impulse-driven that we need to be not just near the activity, but in the activity,” he says. Some of the brand’s most successful locations, Di Ioia says, include the store in the ByWard Market in Ottawa, the location on Queens Quay in Toronto, and the Banff store.

Saskatchewan is the only Canadian province in which BeaverTails does not have a location, and the brand is actively exploring opportunities for shops in Saskatoon and Regina, according to Di Ioia. In addition, the company is looking to expand its presence in Vancouver.

BeaverTails is also looking internationally for growth. The brand currently has locations in Japan, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea, and is working on expanding to other markets, including France and Mexico.

“North American brands are coveted elsewhere,” says Zappavigna. “We happen to be one of those quintessentially Canadian brands that stick out.”

BeaverTails’ namesake product is a fried dough pastry that is stretched to resemble a beaver’s tail, and is available in nine different flavours. In recent years, the company has expanded its menu to include a variety of other items, including poutine, ‘BeaverDogs’ (a hotdog wrapped in a BeaverTail pastry), and ice cream.

“We offer all of the indulgence snacks that you could hope to eat,” Zappavigna says.

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Megan Harman is a business reporter based in Toronto. She writes about topics including retail, financial services and technology. Megan covers Toronto’s retail industry through her blog Retail Realm (torontoretail.wordpress.com). Follow her on Twitter at @meganmharman.

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