Chinese variety retailer MINISO, which positions itself as a ‘Japanese lifestyle brand’, has big plans for Canada. The company opened its first Canadian store in Vancouver last month, and it could eventually operate as many as 500 stores in Canada, according to a representative.
MINISO is a value-priced retailer that might be classified as a variety store, specializing in household and consumer goods that include cosmetics, stationery, toys and kitchenware. It was co-founded in 2013 by Japanese designer Junya Miyake and Chinese entrepreneur Ye Guo Fu, and is headquartered in Guangzhou, China. MINISO's signage and branding appears similar to that of fast-fashion Japanese chain UNIQLO, which opened its first Canadian store last fall.
In fact, MINISO says on its own website that it considers itself to be a competitor to UNIQLO, as well as Japanese retailer MUJI, which is also expanding into Canada with multiple store locations. Competition could become fierce — MINISO launches new products every seven days.
MINISO launched its North American expansion last month with individual stores in Pasadena, California, and in Vancouver, Canada. The Vancouver store is located at 1256 West Broadway in the city’s Fairview area, and more Lower Mainland locations are confirmed as MINISO begins its Canadian expansion.
According to Jack Liang, Market Development Manager for MINISO (Canada) Store Inc., MINISO will open between 30 and 50 stores in Canada over the next 12 months, with the potential to operate as many as 500 Canadian stores in the coming years.
Next week, MINISO will open its second Canadian store at Tsawwassen Mills, south of Vancouver, and in July two locations are confirmed — one at West Vancouver’s Park Royal, and another at 550 Granville Street, across from Holt Renfrew. Mr. Liang says that there are nine stores under negotiation right now, as MINISO looks to blitz the Canadian market with stores utilizing a franchise model.
After an initial Canadian expansion in the Vancouver region, MINISO will target major cities including Toronto and Montreal, said Mr. Liang. He noted that several Toronto locations are already in the works. MINISO plans to open dozens of stores annually in Canada over the next several years.
If things go as planned, MINISO could significantly disrupt a segment of Canadian retailing, particularly those in the value-priced variety retail space. Homegrown chain Dollarama, which says it plans to eventually operate 1,700 stores in Canada, could see some market share go to MINISO if the new entrant gains traction. Depending on the extent of MINISO’s product assortment in its Canadian stores, even larger chains such as Canadian Tire could see competition in certain product categories. Japanese retailer MUJI, which is also expanding across Canada, carries many of the same product categories as MINISO and is therefore also a competitor.
*Photos via MINISO's corporate website.