BRIEF: French Connection Downsizes to 1 Store, Copper Branch to Double Store Count

 CF Sherway Gardens in March of 2018. Photo: Craig Patterson

CF Sherway Gardens in March of 2018. Photo: Craig Patterson

By Helen Siwak, Retail Insider Brief Editor

And then there was One: French Connection Significantly Downsizes in Canada: UK fashion brand French Connection has been progressively closing its Canadian stores over the past five years, and it now operates one store location at 1181 Sainte-Catherine Street West in Montreal. The company’s second-last Canadian store location recently closed at CF Sherway Gardens in Toronto. 

 11 Bloor Street west in Toronto, prior to closure. Photo via Wikipedia

11 Bloor Street west in Toronto, prior to closure. Photo via Wikipedia

Since 2013, French Connection closed four other Toronto stores, as well as a location in Vancouver. In 2013, French Connection’s store at 11 Bloor Street West closed, and the site is now part of the construction of Sam Mizrahi’s ‘The ONE’. A French Connection at Toronto’s CF Toronto Eaton Centre closed in 2014, and closures on Queen Street West and Yorkdale Shopping Centre followed. A store on Vancouver’s Robson Street shuttered in 2016. 

Known for its cheeky ‘FCUK’ branding (stands for ‘French Connection United Kingdom’), the French Connection brand appears to have lost some of its popularity not only in Canada, but internationally. There’s a lot of competition in the Canadian market as international retailers continue to open stores, and brands such as French Connection need to establish their place and maintain their popularity through consistent marketing, not to mention offering products that consumers desire. The company, which was founded in 1972 and is headquartered in London, continues to operate standalone stores as well as distribute via wholesale channels globally. 

A representative at French Connection notes that the company will continue to maintain a Canadian presence through its Montreal brick-and-mortar location, as well as with its Canadian e-commerce site: https://canada.frenchconnection.com.

‘Melissa’s Musts’ Pop-up Brings On the Haute: Melissa Evans-Lee is not only Bayview Village’s Marketing Director but she is the de facto resident fashionista and decorista who is curating a month-long pop-up shop of ‘haute’ must-haves for Spring.

‘Melissa’s Musts’ has popped-up near the Centre’s lobby on for the month of April. Evans-Lee has carefully hand-picked the season’s most exceptional items from Bayview Village’s retailers so guests can expect the hottest fashion trends, top beauty picks, culinary essentials, glam gifts and more.

This current pop-up follows last year’s wildly successful “The Haute Spot” at which Evans-Lee featured a month full of marvellous, sold-out events at one of Canada’s most prestigious shopping venues Bayview Village Shopping Centre. This lifestyle centre, through its over 110 upscale tenants, is a highly-curated collection of one-of-a-kind boutiques, restaurants and services.

Over the next month, guests can make purchases on-site and are encouraged to consider this pro-tip: visit frequently, a limited quantity of items will be available and, once sold, new merchandise will be introduced.

Copper+Branch+Restaurant+Toronto+Commerce+Place+199+Bay+Street+Retail+Insider.jpeg

MOOOoove Over Big Meat, Copper Branch is Re-defining QSR with More Locations in the Works: With plans to open dozens of vegan eateries across the country, Copper Branch is changing the QSR experience, with a menu comprised of 100% plant-based power foods. The company aims to be ‘the undisputed leader in healthy fast-casual foods.’

 Photo: craig Patterson

Photo: craig Patterson

Established in Montreal in 2014, Copper Branch currently operates 17 locations – 13 in Quebec and 4 in Ontario – with plans to more than double its footprint by the end of the year. This ambition extends into 2019 with 10 more in the works. The company’s ideal spaces are 1,250 to 2,000-square-feet in open-air centres and 450 to 1,500-square-feet in enclosed malls.

With the assistance of initiative partner chartered real estate brokerage Think Retail, under the direction of Tony Flanz, Copper Branch continues its push into Ontario, with restaurants slated to open in Markham, Peterborough, Bowmanville, Kingston, Oakville, Newmarket, East Gwillimbury, Mississauga, and Ottawa.

In addition, the company is to open six confirmed locations in its home province of Quebec in Candiac, Anjou, Rimouski, Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, St. Laurent, and Cote Vertu.

After 25 years owning several traditional fast-food franchises, entrepreneur Rio Infantino set out to revamp the QSR experience with nourishing gourmet power foods designed to appeal to a mainstream audience seeking clean healthy meal option, and he is succeeding!

Note: Copper Branch's expansion representation is as follows: 

Super regional malls (national) - Think Retail/Tony Flanz

Open air centres & streets in Montreal - Corey Besner at Core Consultants Realty

Alberta - Stephen Travers (stephen.travers@copperbranch.ca)

Shoppers Drug Mart Unveils New Wellwise Store in Etobicoke: Offering everything from sleep therapy to low-impact fitness and physiotherapy products, the newest Wellwise in Etobicoke, is exactly what the doctor ordered for Canada’s ageing population. For the first time, there are now more Canadians over the age of 65 than under 15, and they are not going to grow old quietly. Today’s seniors want to take control over the way they age and Shoppers Drug Mart launched the Wellwise stores in 2017 to tap into this market.

The Etobicoke Wellwise differs from the original in Leaside neighbourhood of Toronto with the inclusion of the full-sized vignettes where shoppers can walk through a model bedroom, bathroom, living room and garage to try out products to see how they would fit into everyday living. Soon the store will also feature an innovation space where new products, that haven’t hit the market yet, can be tried, and a community room for associations and experts to run education events.

The grand opening was held last week with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and store tours.

 Photo: Maje

Photo: Maje

Maje Celebrates Anniversary with Photo Book & Flower Cart: Twenty-years ago, Judith Milgrom founded her boho-chic inspired label Maje in Paris. The French-Moroccan fashion designer is known for her affordably priced pieces that are worn by women in 40 countries worldwide. In addition in the upcoming months, Maje will open its largest-ever European store in London. (Formal announcement will be coming soon).

To celebrate the label’s 20th anniversary, Milgrom commissioned three photographers to collaborate with her on a limited-edition coffee-table book with three themes called ‘Maje 20.’ Mark Peckmezian shot ‘family life’ in Paris, Thurstan Redding portrayed ‘friendship’ under the Ouzoud Waterfalls in Morocco, and Coco Capitán teamed up with painter Frances Wilks to experience ‘love’ in England.

In Canada, Maje has created a 20th anniversary flower cart to celebrate the label's anniversary and the launch of the SS 2018 Collection.

Fans of the brand can do celebratory selfie’s on April 14th at the downtown Hudson’s Bay in Vancouver; on April 21st at Queen Street Hudson’s Bay, and on the 28th of April at Maje Yorkdale.

Until the fall of 2016, Canadians could only buy Maje collections in a handful of concessions at Hudson’s Bay but in 2018 the company has expanded into 8 locations plus an outlet at McArthurGlen.

The Amazing Brentwood Completes Final Pour for Tower ONE: A landmark celebration was held last Friday at 614-feet to celebrate the final concrete pour for The Amazing Brentwood’s Tower ONE, the first of 11 towers to go up in the 28-acre project. Standing 63 levels with 591 units, this is the future home of the greatest number of suites in any one building in Metro Vancouver. With ten more towers, more than 250 shops and restaurants, a one-acre plaza, and zoning for possible 1.1 million-square-feet of office space, this is the first of many milestones for The Amazing Brentwood.

Since 1991, Brentwood Town Centre has been part of Burnaby when it was a partial open-air strip centre and enclosed mall. In the 1980s, a second level was added to the mall. In November 2014, a redevelopment announcement was made that shocked not only the community but the Lower Mainland. Over the following 4 years, the development would see the 500,000-square-foot enclosed centre transform into a mixed-use super-regional shopping centre. The Amazing Brentwood will be one of B.C.’s largest shopping centres when completed and will provide sorely needed residential housing to the city.

Tower ONE includes 300 rental homes and 291 market condos which sold in record time in 2014. Since then, two more towers have pre-sold for a total of 1,380 homes with the next highly anticipated release coming next year. In 2019, the first residents will move into Tower ONE.

 Photo: Christopher Lui

Photo: Christopher Lui

Birks Jewellers to Exit Downtown Edmonton After Almost 90 Years: It’s the end of the road for iconic Montreal-based jewellery chain Birks's store in downtown Edmonton’s Manulife Place. Signs in the Manulife Centre store indicate that it will be closing soon, marking the end of several decades of continuous operations for the brand. 

 Photo: Christopher Lui

Photo: Christopher Lui

Prior to having moved into Manulife Centre more than a decade ago, Birks operated a much larger street-level store location near a former Woodward’s flagship in ‘Edmonton Centre’, which is now the eastern portion of Edmonton City Centre. Most modern Birks stores are considerably smaller than flagships of the past, though Birks continues to operate large stores in Montreal, Toronto (relocating) and Vancouver. 

Birks opened its first Edmonton store in 1929 in 'the Birks building' at the corner of Jasper Avenue and 104 Street. The elegant building still stands and is heritage designated

Birks is the second tenant to be leaving downtown Edmonton’s Manulife Place. Last week we reported that Escada has closed its Edmonton store on the ground level next to Holt Renfrew. Downtown Edmonton is in a state of transition but good things are on the way with renovations to Edmonton City Centre, as well as ongoing construction at the ICE District

Thank you again, Christopher Lui, for being the source of news at Manulife Place. 

 Birks Building in Downtown Edmonton,  built in 1929  (Jasper Avenue and 104 Street). Image: Google Street View. at one time, this stretch of Jasper Avenue, between 103 and 104 Street, housed locations for Birks, Henry Singer Menswear, and a 12,000 square foot Holt Renfrew store -- a separate Holt Renfrew Men's store was once housed at the nearby 'Hotel MacDonald' in a retail annex that has since been demolished. 

Birks Building in Downtown Edmonton, built in 1929 (Jasper Avenue and 104 Street). Image: Google Street View. at one time, this stretch of Jasper Avenue, between 103 and 104 Street, housed locations for Birks, Henry Singer Menswear, and a 12,000 square foot Holt Renfrew store -- a separate Holt Renfrew Men's store was once housed at the nearby 'Hotel MacDonald' in a retail annex that has since been demolished. 

Helen Siwak is the publisher of EcoLuxLuv.com Magazine, a freelance content creator specializing in retail and luxury lifestyle. She is a regular content contributor to Boulevard Vancouver (English & Chinese), Retail-InsiderBLUSH Vancouver, and has lifestyle blogged for StyleDemocracy and Daily Hive. When not writing, she is attending fashion events, traveling, and advocating for animal/human rights. helensiwak@yahoo.com.

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