By Craig Patterson
French chocolate and ice cream retailer Jeff de Bruges is launching a Canadian expansion with plans for two stores in Quebec and possibly beyond. De Bruges is known for its chocolate creations and other product categories that are imported from Belgium.
The retailer, which launched in 1986 and began franchising in 1988, introduced ice cream into the mix in 1990 under the direction of entrepreneur founder Philippe Jambon. Jeff de Bruges saw revenue over more than $330 million in 2017. The company boasts more than 500 locations across France with a mix of corporate and franchised stores, as well as 38 locations — one of which is in Canada.
Jeff de Bruges opened its first Canadian location in Montreal in early 2014 at Place Montreal Trust in downtown Montreal. Plans for more locations were put on hold temporarily, and the retailer says that it plans on opening two more locations in Quebec — and as well, Ottawa and Toronto could be target markets if all works as planned.
Stores are said to be “fun and fresh” with a modern turquoise and brown palette, as well as large windows to attract passersby. The overall feel is “industrial chic” and displays are creative — for example, stores feature a wall-mounted chocolate tablet. Packages are upscale and can be personalized in store with ribbons and keepsake boxes.
Jeff de Bruges is working with brokerage Think Retail under the direction of Tony Flanz for its Canadian expansion. According to Think Retail, retail spaces for Jeff de Bruges will ideally be in the 700 square foot to 1,000 square foot range with a primary focus on super-regional malls.