By Craig Patterson
Upscale Toronto-based sport and fashion retailer Sporting Life is expanding into new markets. The company has just announced that its first store in British Columbia will open in the fall of 2019 at The Amazing Brentwood in Burnaby, east of Vancouver. It’s all part of an expansion to position Sporting Life as a national brand that will soon have stores in four provinces.
“Vancouver’s renowned active and health conscious population provides an ideal foundation for launching Sporting Life on the West coast,” said Sporting Life co-founder and CEO David Russell. “We’ve had our eye on this city since Patti (co-founder of Sporting Life) and I lived in Vancouver years back. We see the value in this market and believe in the retail environment. We hope to ultimately have three stores in the greater Vancouver area.”
The Brentwood Sporting Life store will span about 44,000 square feet according to the company, and will open in 2019. The store will feature attractive interiors and an assortment of designer brands, as with the company’s other stores.
Last summer, The Amazing Brentwood’s landlord SHAPE announced that it had partnered with the L Catterton group, which is a private equity firm linked with French luxury conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) and Groupe Arnault. The new $2 billion The Amazing Brentwood will become the focal point of a community that will include over a million square feet of retail space, considerable office space, as well as multiple residential towers for thousands of new residents. The first phase is scheduled to open in the spring of 2019.
The Amazing Brentwood’s retail component will house more than 250 stores, a ‘culinary collection’, and a one-acre plaza. An entertainment focus will also include the addition of Cineplex VIP Cinemas, as well as The Rec Room entertainment centre. Brentwood is eyeing luxury brands to move into the centre, placing it directly in competition with QuadReal’s Oakridge Centre on Vancouver’s West Side, which intends on becoming the region’s second ‘luxury node’ to complement the downtown Vancouver ‘Luxury Zone’.
Sporting Life was founded in 1979 and sells apparel and footwear, as well as equipment geared towards runners, cyclists, skiers, snowboarders and hikers. It has a large selection of outerwear, fleece and coats from popular brands Moncler, Canada Goose, Arc'teryx and The North Face, among others. It also carries a mix of high-end and casual clothing brands such as Barbour, Bogner, Hugo Boss, Mackage, John Varvatos and others. Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. bought 75% of Sporting Life in December of 2011.
Sporting Life operates stores on Toronto’s Yonge Street (2665 Yonge Street and ‘Bikes & Boards’ at 2454 Yonge Street) as well as at Toronto's CF Sherway Gardens (which relocated to a new space in September of 2015), Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Collingwood ON (222 Hurontario Street), Markham ON (CF Markville), Richmond Hill ON (Hillcrest Mall), Ottawa (Lansdowne) and two Calgary stores — one at Southcentre Mall and another at CF Market Mall. The Yorkdale and CF Market Mall stores are the chain's two newest stores and both opened in the fall of 2017.
Sporting Life is in a growth phase that is seeing stores opening across the country. This fall, Sporting Life will open its first store in the Province of Quebec in a one-level retail space at Quartier DIX30 in suburban Montreal. It will be Sporting Life’s 11th store location as the company looks to double its store count over the next several years.
In a previous interview, David Russell said that Sporting Life will look to eventually operate about 20 stores Canada-wide. He explained that the Sporting Life brand will become truly national as it expands into the Vancouver/British Columbia market in 2019, with plans for three store locations in the Lower Mainland. While the Calgary market will be adequately served with two stores, an Edmonton location was a goal for the company, he said at the time (a downtown Edmonton deal unfortunately never materialized). The Greater Toronto Area has room for between two and three more Sporting Life locations, according to Mr. Russell, and the Montreal region could see as many as three stores as well. Store locations will ideally be in the 44,000 square foot range, he said.
In an interview with Marina Strauss of the Globe & Mail [Paywall], Mr. Russell revealed that Sporting Life’s current annual revenue is about $160 million annually, and that the company intends to eventually see sales numbers of about $400 million from its 20 or so stores. The company is profitable and store sales are increasing at low-single-digit rates. E-commerce currently makes up about 15% of sales and Mr. Russell told Ms. Strauss that he expects that number to reach about 20%.
Sporting life is working with brokerage Northwest Atlantic for its Canadian expansion plans, with Chris Wood handling Western Canada and Sam Windberg handling Sporting Life’s eastward real estate expansion.