By Craig Patterson
Minimalist Japanese retailer Muji opened its first store in Western Canada at Metropolis at Metrotown in suburban Vancouver in August of 2017, and the store is said to be doing so well that it is already being expanded by more than 50%. When complete, the 7,770 square foot store will grow to an impressive 12,305 square feet.
That will make it the second-largest Muji store in North America, trailing the downtown Vancouver Robson Street flagship which opened in the fall, spanning more than 14,500 square feet on one level.
Muji is said to be so successful in the Vancouver market, that other store locations are said to be under consideration for expansion. Retail sales in British Columbia are among the highest in Canada, and locals have clearly embraced the Japanese brand.
The Metropolis at Metrotown Muji is located on the mall’s ground level, which is down the hall from anchor Hudson’s Bay. Three retail spaces were joined to create the large store, which features exterior windows as well as a mall-facing entrance.
The Metrotown Muji will be expanded further by annexing 4,535 square feet of retail space, which includes merging three separate spaces surrounding the existing store.
Muji says that it will reveal new services and products to be carried at the store at a later date, with an opening set for the fall of 2018. The goal is to replicate the flagship Robson Street store experience both in product selection and retail footprint.
Muji now operates three stores in the British Columbia Lower Mainland. Besides the Metrotown and Vancouver Robson Street flagships, Muji also operates a 6,355 square foot store at CF Richmond Centre, which is said could also be in line for an expansion, given its exceptional sales.
Muji’s first Canadian store opened in Toronto in November of 2014 at the Atrium, which is a multi-use complex featuring retail at its base as well as retail above. The original 4,400 square foot MUJI store at the Atrium has temporarily relocated while the permanent space is expanded both outwards and upwards into an 18,000 square foot leased space which will become the largest Muji location outside of Asia when it reopens later this year.
MUJI’s second Canadian location, spanning 5,225 square feet, opened at Mississauga’s Square One in November of 2015, followed by the October 2016 opening at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre (6,375 square feet) and the Summer 2017 debut of a 6,000 square foot space at CF Markville, north of Toronto. Most recently, MUJI unveiled a a 6,800 square foot store at Scarborough Town Centre, which was its fifth in the Greater Toronto Area.
Last year, MUJI’s Canadian President, Toru Akita, said that he expected MUJI to operate between 15 and 20 stores in Canada by the year 2020, and a source working with the company says that the retailer has already mapped out many of the locations where it plans to expand, which may include malls as well as urban street front locations.