By Craig Patterson
Montreal-based multi-brand premium footwear retailer Browns Shoes continues to see success with its Canadian operations, which the company attributes to its customer-centric approach and diverse range of fashionable product. As a result, the retailer will continue to expand its operations in Q1 2019 by opening and expanding a number of stores.
At a time when some footwear retailers are closing stores, Browns Shoes is seeing success that it attributes to enhanced customer experience which is creating demand for new and expanded locations.
Browns Shoes has been expanding its operations continuously over the past few years by opening new stores while also expanding, renovating and relocating other units that include Browns, B2 and Browns Outlet nameplates. Browns Shoes has built a loyal clientele nationwide in a network of stores that spans from Vancouver to Halifax.
The latest Browns Shoes expansion begins towards the end of January of 2019 when the company’s B2 store at CF Fairview Mall in Toronto will be rebranded as a Browns store, and will be relocated into a larger space. CF Fairview Mall is located in the northeast quadrant of North York and is one of the country’s most productive malls in terms of annual sales per square foot, according to Retail Council of Canada’s Canadian Shopping Centre Study (new version coming out soon).
Next up, the Browns store at CF Carrefour Laval in suburban Montreal will see a renovation with an expected completion date for the end of March 2019. The store is located in Quebec’s most productive shopping centre and is also one of the largest Browns stores in the company. As part of Browns Shoes’ initiative to be more customer-centric, this flagship will feature an all-new design that will include an ‘endless aisle’ station to browse the retailer’s full collection, as well as a ‘kid zone’ with interactive digital games to keep children occupied while parents shop. These are just a few examples of customer experience initiatives that Browns is rolling out. If customers are receptive, similar ideas could be rolled out into other locations, space-permitting.
In mid-April of 2019, the CF Toronto Eaton Centre B2 store will be relocated within the centre into a flagship-sized unit that will be about double the size of the existing store. The new B2 location will feature a central lounge area, a water bar serving flat and sparkling water, a 14-foot video wall, and custom light fixtures. Again, Browns Shoes is adding features like the water station to enhance the in-store experience for customers. CF Toronto Eaton Centre sees nearly 54-million annual visitors, making it the busiest shopping centre in North America, if not the world.
As well, in April of 2019, Browns will open a Browns Outlet store at the Toronto Premium Outlets, which recently expanded a new retail wing housing several first-to-Canada luxury brands. Toronto Premium Outlets is one of the most productive shopping centres in Canada and its newest tenants will undoubtedly give the centre a further boost in productivity into 2019. The Browns Outlet will move into the former Armani Exchange location. Browns Shoes operates Browns Outlet locations across Canada.
“We try to look at everything we do from the customer’s perspective and are constantly striving to design spaces that are both fun and exciting” according to Director of Retail Experience, Eric Ouaknine.
Browns Shoes has been expanding its operations continuously over the past several years by opening stores. In 2018, the brand has opened new locations and expanded others, making Browns Shoes a true national brand with stores spanning from Vancouver to Halifax. It’s an impressive expansion that has propelled Browns to almost 70 locations under the company’s Browns, B2 and Browns Outlet banners.
Browns Shoes is a family-owned business, founded in 1940 in Montreal by Benjamin Brownstein. The company is now third-generation run. Stores feature designer brands as well as exclusive brands including Mimosa, Browns Couture, The Wishbone Collection, Luca Del Forte, Intensi and B2. Browns has plans to open and expand a number of additional stores between now and 2020.
The retailer is represented in Canada by brokerage Oberfeld Snowcap.