By Craig Patterson
About 50 international retail brands entered Canada by opening stores in 2017, which could be a record. As a comparison, we counted 21 brands that entered Canada in 2016, 28 in 2015, and 20 in 2014 when we began counting.
Granted, the 2017 list of retailers generally occupy smaller footprints than some retailers that have entered Canada in the past such as Walmart, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Target. Hollie Shaw of the Financial Post just wrote an article referencing our Monday article where we discussed how 2017 appears to have been a record breaking year for international retail entrants.
The following list of 2017 international retailers that entered Canada is ordered roughly from the beginning of the year until December, and includes a brief description of each retailer, as well as a link to a Retail Insider article if we wrote about it, where applicable.
Winter 2017: The Winter of 2017 saw a diverse range of openings including very high-end, as well as value-priced retail.
Stefano Ricci: In January of 2017, super-luxury men's fashion brand Stefano Ricci opened its first standalone Canadian store. The 2,600 square foot boutique is located at 1139 West Georgia Street, next to the new Trump Tower in the city’s expanding ‘Luxury Zone’.
The store features Stefano Ricci's pricey menswear as well as fragrances, accessories (such as leather goods and cuff links) and home goods such as porcelain and crystal dinner services, silverware and luxury linens. Every item in the store is made by hand in Italy, using the highest quality of materials. The store is co-owned and operated by Manuel Bernaschek, owner of popular Vancouver-based Showcase Pianos.
While there are no immediate plans for more Stefano Ricci locations in Canada, Mr. Bernaschek said that there’s a possibility that Toronto could be the next Canadian city to see a Stefano Ricci boutique.
Off-White: In early 2017, luxury streetwear brand Off-White officially opened its first North American store in Toronto. Known for its edgy fashions that are a cross between “streetwear and high fashion”, featuring thick diagonal stripes, Off-White's Virgil Abloh (who is also Kanye West’s creative director) launched the brand online in 2013 and held its first Paris showroom presentation in January of 2014.
Off-White’s Toronto store is located at 83 Yorkville Avenue, in an area that is rapidly adding luxury retailers. Virgil Abloh says that he chose Yorkville over other areas of Toronto for a few reasons. “The Off-White brand is an updated luxury concept,” he said. “I show in Paris because it’s about this younger generation’s influence on high fashion.” He snapped up the Yorkville space because of its proximity to other luxury brands, instead of locating on trendier but less affluent Queen Street West.
We coordinated a 3D tour of the Toronto Off-White space with Warren Vandal of GEOmarketing Solutions, who uses an innovative Matterport platform to photograph stores to make it appear that one is walking through the live space.
Towards the end of this month, Off-White will open a second Canadian store in Vancouver, in a laneway between Robson Street and Alberni Street.
galibelle: Innovative Portuguese footwear brand galibelle (spelled with a lowercase ‘g’) opened its first Canadian boutique on Edmonton's Whyte Avenue in early 2017, and a second in Kelowna shortly thereafter.
The concept is unique and simple — consumers first pick a desired shoe sole, then choose from a variety of potential top straps that interchangeably button onto the sole. With over 30 different sole styles and over 1,000 different interchangeable straps of various colours and materials, women are able to customize their sandals, heels or boots, depending on the occasion.
Canadian master franchisees David and Lisa Broesky brought the concept to Canada after discovering galibelle while on a holiday in Barcelona, Spain. The Edmonton store measures less than 800 square feet in size and carries a wide variety of galibelle styles, as well as the brand’s boots and accessories. The Kelowna store is a bit larger, spanning about 1,200 square feet. As the concept expands, stores could be as small as 500 square feet in size, said Mr. Broesky.
Style Encore: Minneapolis-based Style Encore, operating under the Winmark Corporation umbrella, officially opened its first Canadian store last winter in Guelph, Ontario. The unique women’s resale retail concept is expanding its Canadian operations rapidly under a franchise model.
The Style Encore retail concept caters to women in their late 20's and upwards, selling gently-used clothing, footwear, handbags and accessories. Fashions range from casual to dressy, with Style Encore buying items that have been in retail stores within the past couple of years in order to reflect current trends. Sizes range from size 0 to 4X, and the company also makes it clear that it doesn't sell counterfeits by taking measures to ensure brand authenticity. Style Encore is working with Don Gregor of Aurora Realty Consultants as its Canadian broker.
SoulCycle: American spin cycle fitness studio concept SoulCycle entered the Canadian market in early 2017 with a location on King Street West in Toronto. Two more have since opened -- one in Toronto's Yorkville area, and another in Vancouver's Yaletown area.
"It’s exciting that SoulCycle is opening its first studio in Canada, in a premier brick and beam building along King Street West – right in the heart of the action in downtown Toronto", said Hilary Kellar-Parsons of brokerage Avison Young, who negotiated the Toronto deal in partnership with Avison Young's Tyler Sopik.
SoulCycle classes incorporate upper body exercises and high-energy music into each class, set in a dark candlelit room. SoulCycle is known for it's cult following of riders, with a loyal clientele including names such as Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, David Beckham, Demi Lovato, and Lady Gaga.
Liv Bicycle Boutique: In January of 2017, Liv Vancouver Bicycle Boutique opened its first Canadian store on West 4th Avenue on Vancouver's West Side. The store is also the first cycle store in Canada to focus on women.
The store deals exclusively in Liv bicycles, along with Liv and complementary brand clothing and accessories.
Spring 2017: The Spring of 2017 was a busy time for store openings in Canada, again with a mix of value-priced and luxury brands.
MINISO: Chinese variety retailer MINISO, which positions itself as a ‘Japanese lifestyle brand’, opened its first Canadian stores in Vancouver in the spring of 2017, and has big plans for Canada. The company says that it could eventually operate as many as 500 stores in Canada -- more than a dozen are now open in BC, Ontario and Alberta, and 100 are expected to be open by the end of 2018.
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.
Richard Mille: One of the world’s priciest and most prestigious watch brands, Richard Mille, opened a freestanding store in Toronto’s upscale Yorkville area in the spring. Swiss-based Richard Mille features some watch styles that are priced in excess of $1 million.
The Toronto boutique opened at 118 Yorkville Avenue, at the base of the prestigious Hazelton Hotel. Jeweller Louis Black operates the Richard Mille boutique under a licensing agreement -- both of them are on the move, and will soon relocate to the second floor of 135 Yorkville Avenue into a considerably larger retail space.
Richard Mille boutiques are quite rare, with locations in selected cities that boast affluent locals and tourists. In the United States, there are five Richard Mille boutiques in four cities.
Maison Valmont: Pricey Swiss cellular skincare brand Valmont opened its fourth La Maison Valmont location in the world at Vancouver’s upscale Oakridge Centre. More Canadian locations could follow, though growth will be slow as the company tests out the new format in various global markets, it says.
The Oakridge Centre La Maison Valmont retail space spans 1145 square feet on one level, and is located between Montecristo Jewellers and Shoppers Drug Mart beauty concept Murale. La Maison Valmont features two treatment rooms, a lounge area, and a retail space selling the brand’s skincare along with products by brand By Terry, as well as a selection of jewellery made in Murano, Italy.
Valmont was founded in Switzerland in 1985 by husband-wife team Didier and Sophie Guillon, and the brand is known for its high-performing anti-aging product range, with substantial price tags. Some creams cost in excess of $600 each.
The 2,800 square foot Vancouver store, located at 47 Water Street in the city’s hip and historical Gastown area, features custom furniture built from local salvaged wood, iron beams, wooden floors and imagery of Filson dating back to the late 1800’s. Street level windows will showcase apparel, bags, and accessories for both men and women. Filson’s second Canadian store opened in Toronto at 694 Queen Street West.
Filson (originally named 'C.C. Filson's Pioneer Alaska Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers') was founded in Seattle in 1897, and is known particularly for its clothing and luggage, as well as its guarantee. The company designs, manufactures and distributes its products, which feature rugged designs with prices in the mid to upper-end range. Filson partnered with broker Tony Flanz of Think Retail for its initial Canadian expansion.
Footaction: New York City-based Foot Locker launched the first International location for its Footaction banner in the spring. Located at CF Toronto Eaton Centre in Toronto, the new space is unique in how it includes a number of its brands in separate shop-in-stores. The 6,500 square foot store is located on ‘Level 1’ of the mall.
The three shop-in-stores include Nike Kicks Lounge at Footaction, adidas Originals Collective at Footaction, and Puma Select at Footaction. As well, Footaction is launching "elevated event and retail storytelling spaces" in key North American cities called ‘Capsule'. Toronto’s is called Capsule|416 by Footaction and according to the company, it takes cues from local street style.
Bailey Nelson: Australian eyewear retailer Bailey Nelson launched its corporate Canadian store expansion in the spring, with plans to expand into various markets over the next several years. Vancouver was the brand’s Canadian launch city, and a Toronto location followed on Toronto's West Queen West in the fall.
The company will look to open multiple locations in each market it enters, she noted, clustering stores in order to build a customer base. Following Vancouver and Toronto, Bailey Nelson will seek to expand into Ottawa and other major Canadian cities.
Founded in Bondi Beach (Sydney) Australia in 2012, Bailey Nelson retails high-quality, on-trend glasses and sunglasses at a moderate price-point. It designs and manufactures its high-quality frames and uses top-quality lenses.
Ollie Quinn: Value-priced UK-based eyewear retailer Ollie Quinn initiated a North American expansion that included launching nine boutiques in Canada in the spring. The company’s growth plans are ambitious, with an anticipated 30 stores expected to open in North America over the next two years, as well as an equal number in the UK.
Ollie Quinn was founded in London in May of 2013 by four friends, two of which are Canadian. Its Canadian operations launched in March of 2014, though its stores have only just recently been rebranded under the Ollie Quinn nameplate.
Kohler: Renowned kitchen and bathroom fixtures brand Kohler opened its first Canadian Kohler Signature store in Vancouver in the spring of 2017. The 5,000 square foot retail space is located in the city’s upscale ‘South Granville’ retail area.
The store is owned and operated by EMCO Corporation. The retail space provides an upscale shopping atmosphere, as well as expert customer service. Consumers and design professionals are provided a hands-on opportunity to experience the latest kitchen and bath products exclusively from the Kohler Co. brands.
Le Labo: Estée Lauder-owned fragrance brand Le Labo opened its first freestanding Canadian store in Toronto in spring, at 876 Queen Street West. A Vancouver location is expected to be announced shortly.
The pricey Le Labo brand was founded in 2006 as a collection of 10 fragrances by Fabrice Penot and Edouard Roschi. The number in the fragrance name indicates the number of notes in its composition and the name of material (Vetiver, Jasmin, Labdanum) refers to the most prominent note within. The brand now features 45 perfumes, with its most recent having been created in 2015. Prices generally range between $100 and over $500 for fragrances and related products. Le Labo was acquired by New York City-based beauty conglomerate Estée Lauder in 2014.
Illesteva: Upscale and trendy New York City-based eyewear and accessory brand Illesteva opened its first Canadian location at 829 Queen Street West in Toronto in the spring. It’s the company’s first freestanding international store, and also the largest in the company to date.
Besides the new Toronto store, Illesteva operates eight store locations, seven of which are in the United States. Illesteva was founded in New York City in 2010, and it sells eyewear that is handmade in France and Italy. Designs include classic shapes that utilize contemporary materials (such as acetate, bamboo, wood, titanium and natural buffalo horn), resulting in a brand that is both trendy as well as pricey. The brand has recently expanded its offerings to include a line of hand-finished leather goods, umbrellas, backpacks and bags, transforming Illesteva into a lifestyle brand.
Oomomo: The '100 Yen' Japanese variety store concept Oomomo entered Canada with a 6,000 square foot space at West Edmonton Mall in the spring of 2017. More are expected to follow, with the Albertan licensee saying that its focus will initially be on Alberta, prior to expanding elsewhere.
The store is located at busy entrance 48, which is said to be the busiest access point to the mall because it's also next to a major transit stop.
MUJOSH: West Edmonton Mall also saw the opening of North America's first location for cutting-edge Hong Kong-based eyewear brand MUJOSH. The new West Edmonton Mall store boasts a strategic corner space on the mall’s ground floor, facing a busy main corridor as well as an access way to the busy Phase 3 food court.
MUJOSH was founded in 2010 and it already has over 700 boutiques globally, operating both freestanding stores as well as department store shop-in-stores. Its stores are in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and now, Canada. We're aware that other mall landlords have been in talks with MUJOSH to open stores.
DXL Men’s Apparel: In the spring of 2017, American multi-brand men's plus-sized retailer DXL Men’s Apparel opened its first Canadian store in Ajax, Ontario. A second store followed soon after in Mississauga. The company is expected to expand across Canada over the next several years.
L' Éclair de Génie: Popular Paris-based dessert retail concept L' Éclair de Génie opened its first Canadian location in the spring at 1210 Robson Street in Vancouver.
Pastry chef Christophe Adam has opened over 20 of the éclair shops around the world, including Paris, Japan, Hong Kong, Milan, and Moscow.
“We have 257 kinds of éclairs, and I still have fun playing with new flavours, textures and colours,” said Adam in a press statement. “The éclair must have oomph, with a dazzling, modern look.”
Summer 2017: It was the summer of luxury retailers in 2017, with several pricey jewellery and watch brands opening stores in Toronto and Vancouver.
Breitling: Swiss watch manufacturer and chronograph specialist Breitling opened its first Canadian boutique at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The 500 square foot space carries Breitling’s full assortment of watches, including Breitling for Bentley.
The boutique’s interior features pop art paintings by renowned American artist Kevin T. Kelly, and it is decorated with American walnut floors and quadrille wood paneling. Also included is a VIP seating area. Yorkdale’s Breitling is operated in partnership with local watch and jewellery retailer European Boutique, located in the western part of the mall.
Hublot: LVMH-owned Swiss luxury timepiece brand Hublot opened its first freestanding Canadian boutique in Vancouver over the summer. Located in the heart of the city’s expanding ‘Luxury Zone’ at 1080 Alberni Street, the 2,800 square foot store is one of Hublot’s largest globally.
Hublot was founded in Switzerland in 1980 by Italian Carlo Crocco — a scion of the Italian Binda Group dynasty, best known for making Breil watches. Hublot is named after the French word for “porthole”, and the first watch that he created featured the first natural rubber strap in the history of watchmaking — a feat that took three years of research to create. In 1998, Hublot was acquired by French luxury conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy), and it continues to operate as a subsidiary.
Lipault Paris: Lipault Paris, the upscale French luggage company, opened its first freestanding North American location at the McArthurGlen Designer Outlets in Vancouver in the summer. It's the first phase of an eventual retail expansion into the North American market.
Lipault is distinctive for its monochromatic yet vivid colour scheme, designed as a lightweight alternative to more conventional luggage sets. Each line contains the complete set of travel accessories, from large suitcases and carry-ons to laptop cases and toiletries kits. The monochrome look and minimalist design adheres to the aesthetics of Parisian chic, while emphasizing efficiency and utilitarianism.
DBbabies: High-end children’s retailer from Dubai, DBbabies, made its debut in the Canadian market with a new boutique near Montreal, marking what was expected to be the beginning of a cross-country expansion for the brand. It didn't last long, however -- it appears that both of its locations in Montreal have closed.
DBbabies specializes in essentials for children ranging in age from newborns to eight years old. Co-founded by Montreal native Danny B. Haddad in 2007, the chain operates seven boutiques throughout the UAE and Oman, as well as an online store serving those regions.
Richemont Group Opens Five First-in-Canada Boutiques at Yorkdale: Geneva-based Richemont opened five boutiques at Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre over the summer, and all five were firsts for Canada. Van Cleef & Arpels opened first in a 1,600 square foot retail space, followed soon after by locations for Piaget, Vacheron Constantin, IWC Schaffhausen and Officine Panerai in the mall's expanding luxury wing.
In the fall/winter of 2017, Richemont opened Vancouver outposts for Panerai, IWC and Van Cleef & Arpels -- Vacheron Constantin and Piaget are also expected, though it's said to be challenging to secure retail space in Vancouver's desirable and highly profitable downtown 'Luxury Zone', centred around the 1000 block of Alberni Street.
Vistaprint: Dutch ecommerce brand Vistaprint opened its first ever brick and mortar retail space, and it chose Canada, specifically Toronto, as the launch city. The new Vistaprint Studio targets small businesses in the area with Vistaprint services, and also offers workshops throughout the year. Vistaprint says that the initiative is a “truly seamless experience between the online shop and retail space."
Located at 720 King Street West, the new 1,700 square foot Vistaprint Studio is contained in a bright, south-facing retail space just west of Toronto’s downtown core. Consumers can touch and feel products, and get face-to-face assistance from ‘VP Coaches’. Vistaprint recognized that in a recent survey of the company's North American customer base, 64% of business owners want more one-on-one in-person support when designing their new marketing materials.
Minotti: Upscale Italian furniture brand Minotti launched a Canadian flagship showroom in the summer, with potentially more planned as the brand continues to establish itself in the Canadian market. Minotti recently opened at 102 Berkley Street in Toronto’s upscale King East Design District, joining a number of other high-end home furnishings retailers in the area.
Minotti’s new Toronto flagship showroom was opened under the direction of Roman Cholasta and Maryse Fafard — Roman’s family brought the brand to Canada almost two decades ago. The Berkley Street showroom is a relocation of the previous Minotti location on Davenport Road — the new space is roomier, and joins a number of new home furnishings retailers in the burgeoning King East Design District.
Michael Jordan/Jordan Brand: In June of 2017, Nike in partnership with Footaction (a Foot Locker subsidiary) launched North America’s second Jordan Brand store. The 9,000 square foot 306 Yonge Street Toronto location follows the successful 2015 launch of the Jordan Brand’s flagship store in Chicago.
Touted as a landmark for basketball culture in Toronto, the new store seeks not only to be a world destination for Jordan brand apparel and sneakers, but a hub for Toronto’s vibrant basketball community.
We coordinated a 3D tour of the Toronto Jordan store with Warren Vandal of GEOmarketing Solutions, who uses an innovative Matterport platform to photograph stores to make it appear that one is walking through the live space's three levels.
Pablo Cheesetarts: Osaka, Japan-based Pablo Cheesetarts opened its first Canadian location in the summer on Dundas Street West in downtown Toronto. If its lineups are any indication, the concept could see a rollout Canada-wide.
We have yet to try it, and have heard mixed reviews -- taste and consistency are subjective, feel free to comment at the end of this article with what you think.
Genesis Motors: Hyundai-owned Genesis Motors launched its Canadian brick-and-mortar expansion with a location in Toronto. It was the first of multiple locations to open in Canada this year for the South Korean luxury automobile brand.
Hyundai launched Genesis as a standalone marque in November of 2015 and in November of 2016, the company launched its Canadian eCommerce site.
"Genesis goes beyond offering exceptional vehicles by providing a human-centred purchase and ownership experience," said Brand Director Michael Ricciutto. "Genesis delivers personalized service every step of the way with the Genesis-at-Home concierge service and now, with the first retail store in Genesis Downtown, luxury boutiques.”
By 2021, Genesis Motors anticipates operating 32 Canadian locations, according to Mr. Ricciutto. These will include freestanding stores (both mall and street-front) as well as showrooms in other dealerships. Genesis plans to have six new vehicle models by 2021, which the company expects to be a hit with its all-inclusive pricing, Genesis at Home concierge for sales and service, complimentary scheduled maintenance, and comprehensive warranty.
Lorna Jane: Australian activewear brand Lorna Jane has quietly entered the Canadian market with a new store that opened at CF Shops of Don Mills over summer, and a popup shop at Yorkdale Shopping Centre that ran for the month of December. The company also has retail spaces in Calgary and Vancouver under different licensees, resulting in a complicated situation with what appears to be a lack of communication amongst them (including coordinating with the press to discuss their local operations).
The company, which operates more than 220 stores across Australia and 20 stores in the U.S., offers what is says is high quality, fashionable activewear for women.
Fall/Winter 2017: The latter part of 2017 saw a whirlwind of store openings in Canada -- 17 opened first stores in Canada in a period of less than four months.
Belstaff: British luxury heritage brand Belstaff opened its first freestanding Canadian boutique at Toronto’s Yorkville Village shopping centre in the fall. The 1,100 square foot storefront is operated in partnership with Zappacosta family that has been in business in the area for a generation. Belstaff was the first of several upscale boutiques that opened at Yorkville Village (formerly ‘Hazelton Lanes’) this fall, as the centre regains its position as the heart of the affluent Yorkville community.
Eleventy: Italian luxury brand Eleventy opened its first store in North America at Toronto’s Yorkville Village. The 2,200 square foot space is operated in partnership with local retailer TNT The New Trend. It's the first location in North America to feature Eleventy's full line of men’s and women’s fashions.
“Since the launch of Eleventy North America, Toronto has been our top performing market. This is an exciting opportunity to offer the full line to the city that has shown its appreciation for Eleventy from the very beginning,” said Geoff Schneiderman, President of Eleventy North America. “The partnership with TNT to open our first freestanding boutique is a very natural marriage between the brands,” added Mr. Schneiderman.
Eleventy was founded in 2007 by Marco Baldassari and Paolo Zuntini, and it’s particularly known for its upscale casual fashion design with a soft sartorial style. Eleventy has a network of 20 mono-brand boutiques in Europe and Asia, and is sold in over 500 speciality and department stores worldwide.
Zadig & Voltaire: Paris-based fashion brand Zadig & Voltaire opened two standalone Canadian stores in the fall — one in Toronto at Yorkdale Shopping Centre, and another soon after in Montreal's Westmount area on Sherbrooke St. West. The standalone store openings coincide with Zadig & Voltaire’s exiting Holt Renfrew as a vendor earlier this year.
Aurora Realty Consultants represents the retailer as brokerage in Canada.
Seafood City: California-based Filipino grocery chain Seafood City opened its first store in Canada in Mississauga in September. Considered to be ‘more than just a grocery store’, the wildly popular concept is expected to open locations in selected markets nationwide.
Located at Heartland Town Centre in Mississauga, the new 50,000 square foot Seafood City store features fresh seafood as well as meat, fruits and vegetables, and "special spices and ingredients that Filipinos grew up with and have learned to love,” according to the company. Included are “Traditional products that they have missed and remind them of home, but also new products from the different regions of the Philippines”.
The store also houses four fast-food restaurants — Grill City, Noodle Street, CrispyTown, and Jollibee — the latter will open in early 2018. The store also includes locations for Valerio's Tropical Bakeshop, TFC (The Filipino Channel), Atlas International Courier, and the Philippine National Bank.
More Canadian locations are planned, and the Mississauga store is said to be very busy.
RH Gallery: RH, aka Restoration Hardware, opened a massive four-level Toronto Yorkdale Shopping Centre flagship in the fall. While it's not the first location for the retailer in Canada, Yorkdale marks a first for the company's super-sized flagship concept. The store looks like a spectacular mansion, with indoor and outdoor retail spaces, a courtyard café, interactive design atelier, and rooftop conservatory/park.
The flagship spans a total of almost 70,000 square feet of interior and exterior space, including entire floors dedicated to RH Interiors, RH Modern and RH Outdoor. This store also includes an interactive Design Atelier, offering professional interior design services in a studio environment.
Acuitis: Popular French optician and acoustics specialist Acuitis launched its North American expansion in Quebec in fall, with the opening of a 3,226 square foot flagship boutique at CF Carrefour Laval in mid-November. The store features quality eyewear and hearing aid services, and a second Quebec boutique is already scheduled for spring 2018 at CF Promenade St-Bruno.
The family business was founded in 2010 by father-son team Daniel and Jonathan Abbitan, with a goal of offering quality, affordably accessible eye and hearing care while also providing personalized, customer-centric service. Acuitis offers an ‘all inclusive’ service for its eyewear including eye examinations, mounting, lenses and any required adjustments. Glasses are often ready within an hour, with prices ranging from $120 to $550.
Moose Knuckles: Though it's Canadian, edgy outerwear and fashion brand Moose Knuckles opened its first global store at Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre in November.
The 2,750 square foot retail space, designed by award-winning Burdifilek, aims to capture “the brand’s ethos for community, freedom, authenticity and balls-to-the-wall attitude,” by providing a “concept of a modern rebellion that emerges in this global brand concept”, according to Moose Knuckles. Flooring is real wood tiles, a wall is clad in raw steel, and there’s a deerskin couch covered in vinyl — it was explained that it was a take on ‘grandma’s sofa’.
The Yorkdale Moose Knuckles lease deal was negotiated by the broker team behind DWSV Remax Ultimate Realty Inc. (David Wedemire and Stan Vyriotes).
Cheesecake Factory: While not exactly retail, popular US-based restaurant chain Cheesecake Factory opened its first Canadian location at Toronto's Yorkdale as well, spanning in excess of 10,400 square feet with two covered patios.
Cheesecake Factory replaced a Milestones restaurant that occupied a space facing north, near Yorkdale’s Hudson’s Bay store. The restaurant features imported limestone floors and custom wood columns, hand-painted murals and modern lighting.
Sugarfina: Los Angeles-based luxury ‘grownup’ candy retailer Sugarfina opened its first freestanding Canadian retail location in the fall at Metropolis at Metrotown east of Vancouver. There are plans for more as the brand expands with the help of a newly announced $35 million growth equity financing from private equity firm Great Hill Partners, and Tony Flanz of Think Retail represented Sugarfina in its deal with Metropolis at Metrotown’s landlord Ivanhoé Cambridge.
Sugarfina confirms that the company intends on operating standalone stores in Vancouver as well as in the Toronto market, with as many as 10 locations in Canada in the coming years.
Sugarfina stores feature premium items made from high-quality ingredients, sourced directly from artisan candy makers around the globe. Products include gourmet chocolates, caramels, gummies, malt balls, licorice and other delicious confections. Champagne-infused gummies and maple bourbon caramels have been popular, with celebrity endorsements helping grow brand awareness. The Sugarfina concept has grown rapidly, now boasting 29 boutiques in the United States with three of those being located in Nordstrom stores.
Beretta: Firearms brand Beretta Italy opened its only boutique store-in-a-store in Canada at Al Flaherty’s Outdoor Store in Toronto in the fall of 2017. The boutique occupies about 300 square feet of space, while Al Flaherty’s exists in about 15,000 square feet which includes its warehouse.
The boutique offers a variety of the high-end Beretta product from firearms to clothing to shooting accessories and equipment.
Dyson: UK-based household and technology ‘reinvention’ brand Dyson opened its first freestanding Canadian ‘Dyson Demo’ store at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre in December. It’s Dyson’s fourth retail space in North America, as well as one of only 19 showrooms globally.
The highly experiential 1,720 square foot Yorkdale retail space is designed to encourage people to pick up, test, and understand Dyson’s technology. Interactive demonstrations bring to life the science at the core of Dyson machines, with ‘Dyson Experts’ on-hand to explain machines and provide recommendations that will best suit customers’ lifestyles.
Woolrich: America’s oldest outdoor clothing company entered the Canadian retail scene with its first store at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The company’s president says he expects to open at least three stores in Canada by the year 2019, targeting Montreal in 2018 and Vancouver in 2019 for standalone Woolrich store locations.
The Yorkdale store occupies a 2,875 square foot retail space in Yorkdale’s Nordstrom Wing, between Warby Parker and Mendocino. Woolrich's facade features the trademark red-and-black ‘Woolrich Buffalo Check™ similar to its Tokyo flagship, as well as a video screen above the storefront.
Aurora Realty Consultants represents the retailer as brokerage in Canada.
MCM: German-founded luxury brand MCM opened its standalone Canadian flagship on Toronto’s Mink Mile in the fall, and more Canadian stores will follow.
Located at 93 Bloor Street West, the new 2,150 square foot MCM flagship’s interiors feature trademark gold accent fixtures and bright lighting, housing the country’s most extensive collection of MCM fashions, including accessories, leather goods, ready-to-wear and even footwear. MCM says that the Bloor Street store is at its ‘Diamond Level’, which means it carries a full assortment with a focus on its highest quality product offerings.
The company intends on opening at least two more stores — one in Vancouver, as well as a second store in Toronto. MCM’s second targeted Toronto location is Yorkdale Shopping Centre, it says.
APM Monaco: Monaco-based jeweller APM Monaco opened its first Canadian boutique in Toronto in the fall, with more expected to follow. The 1,700 square foot Toronto store is located at 89 Bloor Street West, across from Harry Rosen and Holt Renfrew Men.
APM Monaco’s store design is inspired “by the Monaco lifestyle” with a signature navy and white colour combination. APM Monaco was founded in 1982 by Ariane Prette as a jewellery brand specializing in creating traditional gold, diamond and precious stone pieces for other jewellers. It has over 160 stores worldwide, and it’s growing quickly — a rapid US store expansion is currently in the works and sources confirm that Vancouver is a target for at least one APM Monaco store location.
SEE Eyewear: In November, edgy and popular SEE Eyewear officially launched its Canadian expansion with its first standalone store, located in Toronto on Cumberland Street. SEE has set its sights on potentially more Canadian boutiques, as it carefully expands its operations by opening locations where it sees synergies.
SEE, which stands for 'Selected Eyewear Elements’, was founded in 1997 by optical pioneer Richard Golden, with an aim to provide consumers with affordably priced, fashion-forward eyewear. The company’s prices encourage shoppers to create a ‘wardrobe’ of glasses, with a wide variety of styles available. In the Toronto stores, SEE’s collection ranges from $199 to $599 for eyeglasses and include single vision plastic or polycarbonate lenses, and all sunglasses are priced at a reasonable $149 per pair.
Targeted Canadian cities for SEE include Montreal and Vancouver, which could both see more than one location open, depending on if the right space can be acquired. Other cities could follow as the brand gains traction among Canadian consumers.
Hunter Boots: UK-based fashion brand Hunter, known for its rubber wellington boots, opened its first standalone North American location in November — only its third globally. The 2,800 square foot store is located in the Nordstrom-anchored expansion wing at Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
CEO Vincent Wauters explained that Hunter is seeking out store locations in a selection of the world's most cosmopolitan cities, where locals and tourists can converge to experience the Hunter brand in its entirety. Having a retail store allows Hunter to showcase its brand in a way that isn’t possible in a multi-brand retailer.
Given the rainy climate on Canada’s West Coast, Vancouver could eventually see a Hunter Boots flagship store, explained Mr. Wauters.
Jake Burton founded Burton Snowboards out of his Vermont barn in 1977, dedicating his life to snowboarding. He’s been instrumental in growing snowboarding from a backyard hobby to a global world-class sport.
Loro Piana: Italian luxury brand Loro Piana has launched a retail expansion into Canada in the fall of 2017, and now operates four concessions at Holt Renfrew. Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre was the first Holt Renfrew location for a Loro Piana boutique, followed by shop-in-store boutiques in Vancouver, Toronto (50 Bloor Street West) as well as at Holt Renfrew in downtown Calgary.
The Holt Renfrew concessions carry a range of Loro Piana women’s ready-to-wear and accessories, in attractive branded environments.
While there are no immediate plans for standalone Loro Piana boutiques in Canada, sources confirm that the brand has many Canadian clients who buy Loro Piana internationally -- Loro Piana has boutiques in many major US cities as well as globally.
Optical Center: Optical Center, an eye and hearing care store, is geared for big future expansion after opening three locations in the past year in the Montreal area, and the company plans to grow more locations in Quebec.
The first Canadian store opened in LaSalle, Quebec followed by one in Montreal and then another in Pointe-Claire.
Optical Center has opticians and optometrists as well as audiologists. It sells eye frames, lenses and contact lenses online. About 12 years ago the company began to offer audiology services.
Montreal-based Construction Vergo built all three stores. “It’s our first stores in North America and we wanted to share this adventure with someone who truly understands our concept store. Working with them was one of our best decisions.”
Mr. and Mrs. Italy: Pricey Italian luxury brand Mr. and Mrs. Italy opened its first Canadian store at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre in December of this year. Toronto joins a handful of cities globally to boast having a Mr. and Mrs. Italy store location.
Mr. and Mrs. Italy was founded in 2007 in Milan and is known particularly for its parkas lined with fur detailing. Prices aren’t cheap — parkas are generally priced between about $2,000 and $6,000 each, with some approaching $10,000. The brand also features men’s and women’s ready-to-wear clothing and accessories, including collections of unique and expensive footwear that often features fur accents.
According to its website, there are only eight standalone Mr. and Mrs. Italy stores in the world, in seven cities. There’s one store location in Milan — its flagship, as well as locations in New York City, Bal Harbour Florida (Bal Harbour Shops), Paris, Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong, which has two stores.
Have we missed any? It's quite possible -- feel free to comment below, or email Retail Insider's Editor-in-Chief, Craig Patterson, at: firstname.lastname@example.org. It remains to be seen if 2018 is as busy as 2017 as per above, and we're already compiling a list and will be reporting on new store openings throughout the year.
Craig Patterson, now based in Toronto, is the founder and Editor-in-Chief Retail Insider. He's also a retail and real estate consultant, retail tour guide and public speaker.
For more of today's retail news: Canadian Retail News From Around The Web: January 4, 2018