By Craig Patterson
Italian luxury brand Furla is seeking retail space in Canada for new stores, as the company expands its direct-to-consumer operations into new markets. Furla has partnered with Halcyon Brands for a joint venture in Canada and brokerage Aurora Realty Consultants for its brick-and-mortar expansion into the Canadian market.
Furla was founded by the Furlanetto family in 1927, and it remains family-owned. The company produces various product categories that include leather goods such as handbags and shoes, as well as an expanding category of accessories that include eyewear, jewellery and watches. The company’s goal is to become something of a lifestyle brand. Furla’s headquarters are in Bologna, Italy, in an historic 18th-century villa and in 2015, the company opened a five-storey tall ‘Palazzo’ in central Milan.
The brand’s pricing is a bit lower than that of some of its competitors, which Furla says gives it a competitive advantage. “It is the only brand in the fast-growing premium segment that gives customers an authentic Italian experience with an attractive value for money proposition, positioning itself as one of the major global players in the leather goods market,” according to the company’s website. Furla also has regional headquarters in New York City, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Furla employs more than 1,600 people and interestingly, about 90% of these are women who represent more than 100 nationalities, with an average age of 36.
On its website, Furla says that it has more than 1,600 points of sale worldwide, 1,200 of which are multi-brand and department stores. It also operates a network of nearly 450 stores worldwide in 100 countries, with about half of these being directly owned and the rest being franchised. Of the franchised units, 35 of them are ‘travel retail stores’.
Furla, which has partnered with Halcyon Brands for a joint venture in Canada, is looking to expand its Canadian operations with standalone stores that are expected to range between 1,000 square feet and 1,500 square feet, on major high streets as well as in enclosed malls. While it hasn’t been revealed which cities are in line for new Furla stores, the Toronto and Vancouver markets have been seeing a lot of action from higher-end brands looking to open stores, and Furla’s quality and value proposition might also make it a hit in Montreal.
Furla’s Canadian expansion is timely — the company continues to expand its network of stores in the United States, which tend to be located at prestigious addresses. For example, a Boston store is located at Copley Place, while a New York City flagship has an address in the heart of Fifth Avenue. Furla also operates outlet stores in selected markets.
It’s also not the first time that Canada has seen standalone Furla stores, though previous locations were franchised. A Furla boutique was located at 41 Avenue Road south of the former Hazleton Lanes years ago, and a location in Vancouver operated across from the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver at the southwest corner of Burrard Street and West Georgia Street (1008 W. Georgia Street).