Bose to Shutter Canadian Stores Amid Brick-and-Mortar Retail Retreat

US-based audio equipment brand Bose, known for its high quality products, will shutter all of its remaining Canadian stores as part of a global retreat that will see a total of 119 locations shutter worldwide.

It’s part of a larger plan to close Bose’s entire store footprint in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia. The company said that consumers are increasingly purchasing through e-commerce and that hundreds of employees will be laid off as part of the store closings. The privately held company won’t reveal how many jobs will be lost as Bose pulls out of physical retail. About 130 stores in China, the UAE, and other parts of Asia, including India, will remain open. 

“Originally, our retail stores gave people a way to experience, test, and talk to us about multi-component, CD and DVD-based home entertainment systems,” said Colette Burke, Bose’s vice president of global sales. “At the time, it was a radical idea, but we focused on what our customers needed, and where they needed it — and we’re doing the same thing now.”

PHOTO: BOSE

The Bose stores act as showrooms for the brand’s expanded assortment of products — the company has grown beyond its signature noise canceling headphones to include smart speakers and even sunglasses that double as earbuds. 

Bose opened its first retail store in 1993 in the United States and opened its first Canadian stores several years later. The company’s website shows several Canadian locations that are still open, though several recently closed amid questions about the future of the company. 

According to the Bose website, the brand operates standalone Bose stores in the Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal markets. Two locations in the Toronto area include a unit at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre as well as at Toronto Premium Outlets. In Ottawa, Bose operates a showroom at CF Rideau Centre. In Montreal, a Bose ‘personal audio store’ operates at the overhauled Montreal Eaton Centre at 705 Ste-Catherine Street West in the city’s downtown core. The Montreal store was newly built as part of the ongoing Montreal Eaton Centre transformation.

PHOTO: TECHSPOT

Other Bose locations in Canada have shuttered, including a unit at CF Pacific Centre in Vancouver last fall that was once said to be the top performing Bose retail location in the country. Italian women’s luxury brand Max Mara will relocate into the 2,000 square foot former Bose space at the end of this month. 

Other shuttered Bose locations include former units at Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket, Ontario as well as at West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Southcentre mall in Calgary, and at the CF Carrefour Laval near Montreal. 

The Yorkdale Bose retail space spans 1,340 square feet according to a lease plan, and is located in a prime location between MAC Cosmetics and Kiehl’s across from the mall’s Coach store. Several luxury brands operate standalone locations nearby. 

BOSE LOCATION AT CF PACIFIC CENTRE. PHOTO: LEE RIVETT
PHOTO: DEXINGER

Bose will continue to sell products online in Canada as well as in multi-brand retailers such as Best Buy. Online retailers such as Amazon.ca also carry an expansive product assortment. 

While the company indicates that it will serve clients via its online and multi-brand partner channels, the move to close Bose stores in Canada and elsewhere marks a deviation from the direct-to-consumer trend. That trend has seen brands opening stores to engage directly with consumers while creating curated retail environments that speak to an entire brand experience.

Many successful brands going direct-to-consumer are in many cases opening stores and not closing them, bringing into question the overall financial health of Bose as a company. Its strategy to shut stores may also result in a decrease in online sales — in a report by International Council of Shopping Centres last year, it was found that operating physical stores lends to increased web traffic in something referred to as a ‘halo effect’

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd.

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