Tim Hortons & President's Choice among top 10 most influential brands in Canada: Ipsos Reid

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Ipsos Reid has unveiled the Top 10 Most Influential Brands in Canada at FFWD: Advertising & Marketing Week in Toronto. With the results based on its third-annual Most Influential Brands study, Steve Levy, CEO, Ipsos Reid, discussed the dimensions and factors surrounding why brands are influential, and explained how the following brands made it to the top 10 in 2013:

Most Influential Brands in Canada 2013
  1. Google
  2. Facebook
  3. Microsoft
  4. Apple
  5. Visa
  6. Tim Hortons
  7. YouTube
  8. President's Choice *NEW in 2013*
  9. Walmart
  10. MasterCard *NEW in 2013*
Two of the above, Tim Hortons and President's Choice, are considered to be 'Canadian'. 

“To Canadians, brands are more than just corporate logos,” said Levy. “They have meaning, personality and even attitude. When it comes to asking which brand is the most trustworthy, has the most presence or is most engaging – the answer can be a very personal one for many of us. This is because we increasingly identify with, relate to, and define ourselves by them – which gives brands something we can measure: influence.”

Levy also shared some of Canada’s brands that are “on fire” – brands that made the biggest gains in influence during 2013. They are:

Brand
McDonald's Canada
Netflix
Hudson's Bay Company
2013 
23
36
52
2012
35
72
84

The Most Influential Brand study examined key dimensions that define and determine the most influential brands in Canada, including: Leading Edge; Trustworthiness; Presence; Corporate Citizenship; and Engagement.

Interesting differences were seen in how the genders, generations and regions view brands. The Millennial generations love their new media with YouTube, Pinterest and Netflix ranking quite high among this group, while Gen Xers find The Weather Network as more influential than their Boomer or Millennial counterparts. Among iconic Canadian brands, Tim Hortons is very influential among Ontarians, while the CBC ranks particularly high among Men, Boomers and those from Quebec and the Maritimes.

The Most Influential Brands study was conducted in December 2013. The online survey of 5,008 adult residents of Canada was conducted using the Ipsos iSay Panel. The results are based on a sample where weighting was employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the results are considered accurate to within +/- 1.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been polled.

Source: Press Release

Canadian grocery wars: major players battle for our dollar

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By Adam Ramsay

The Canadian grocery industry went through a major transformation in 2013, the likes of which we’ve not seen in this country before. New national players debuted on the scene, led by Target’s first international expansion. There were massive takeovers - such as Loblaws' purchase of Shoppers Drug Mart and Sobeys' acquisition of Canada Safeway. Even the way in which consumers purchase their groceries began to shift, as the year closed out with online giant Amazon’s foray into the food retailing ring. All of these changes have contributed towards making the grocery category the most competitive shopping space in Canada - a retailer “battle for positioning” that we should only expect to intensify in 2014.

Canada has long been recognized as a market with wonderful potential for many companies looking to expand internationally. This was certainly the belief of Target - the #2 department store chain in the US behind Walmart - who, for many years, worked towards their eventual arrival north of the border. That arrival would come last March in Ontario when the chain opened up the first set of their eventual 124 Canadian locations. However, even through years of preparation and market research, Target’s debut was met with mixed reaction. Customers were quick to point out empty shelves across various departments and higher prices when compared to their sister stores in the United States. What remained is a brand that is still very much trying to find its footing, and win back some of the guests they may have disappointed upon their introduction.

Target Store Groceries [Image Source]

Fortunately for Target Canada, it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, one of its brightest spots may very well be found within the grocery aisles. One area that the chain hasn’t had to face supply issues with (in large part thanks to a distribution agreement with Sobeys) is its food category. Shoppers who may have entered the store to pick up some of Target’s designer clothing labels or signature home decor products have been able to grab frozen, boxed or canned food items too. Plus, the company has indicated that they intend to partner with more local vendors on fresh products as well. Because it operates nation-wide, holds strong purchasing power and early signs are pointing to a successful first Christmas and Boxing Week for the chain in Canada, Target looks like it could prove in 2014 that it is a fierce contender in the Canadian grocery war. A contender that should only continue to grow stronger as time moves on.

One of those rivals whom Target is contending with is Loblaws, presently the number one food retailer in the country. The company, through its many banners and divisions, has been focusing aggressively in recent years on maintaining its position at the top by fighting off strong established players who are looking to grab a larger slice of the pie. Big moves were made by Galen Weston and his team in 2013, including the massive takeover of Shoppers Drug Mart, the introduction of the personalized, all-digital loyalty rewards program ‘PC Plus’, and a tightening of the company belt that saw hundreds of management jobs cut from the organization.

Inside Loblaws, Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto [Image Source]

Even through all of the major investments and cutbacks last year, times are not easy at Loblaws. Profit is down, same-store sales have flatlined, and competition is continuing to increase from some of the biggest names in the game. For one, the world's largest retailer - Walmart - is finishing up an incredible expansion across Canada of its 'Supercentre' format. The project has meant an addition of 1.4 million square feet of new retail space in Canada, most of which is dedicated to grocery. And Costco, while continuing to open up new warehouses and cater to consumers who like to purchase in bulk, is quickly branding itself as a destination for the finest quality AAA meat products. Although Walmart, Costco and Target are massive, internationally backed head-on competitors to Loblaws in the department store realm, it's a nationwide “food-only” rival of old that is capturing a lot of the attention as of late.

That rival is Sobeys. Who, while operating for years as Canada’s second-largest grocer, has quietly been strengthening its core business and investing in future growth. It too made a major move in 2013, acquiring western food chain Safeway for $5.8 billion. On top of that, Sobeys parent company Empire sold off its theatre business to Cineplex, which has added almost $200 million to the organization who intends to invest it back into its grocery business. Sobeys has also had a strong year as it relates to earnings, being one of the very few food retailers to increase same-store sales and overall profits.

The Stellarton, Nova Scotia-based company has made a conscious effort to brand itself as “the country’s best food retailer.” Last fall, they partnered with world-renowned chef Jamie Oliver on a marketing campaign that has led to a huge increase in the amount of speciality foods and gourmet meal options available in store. They’ve also opened up the first of their 'Sobeys Extra' stores with a revamped space in Burlington, Ontario. These new locations are extremely food and health centric, as they offer in-store chefs, cheese ambassadors, expanded fresh/natural departments and even 'Wellbeing Counsellors' who are there to answer healthy diet-related questions and help customers discover new food options. So far Sobeys' investment in trying to be the best at one category has been paying off.

The final major player in the Canadian grocery war is actually its newest national entrant. Amazon began selling grocery products on Halloween 2013, and has quickly peaked the interest of both competitors and consumers alike with their very non-traditional approach to retailing. The e-commerce powerhouse has all of the major food brands and their products listed, and has created a very interesting “dynamic pricing” model, which Amazon says analyzes massive amounts of data to adjust prices in real time on certain items when necessary. Customers may not be able to purchase all of their groceries (currently just non-perishable items) from the site, but anyone purchasing DVDs or running shoes will be now be able to also buy snacks, condiments, baby food and more to accompany their order.

Amazon Fresh Grocery Delivery [Image Source]

Amazon’s success or failure with their grocery model in Canada will very likely indicate how the incumbents plan to deal with online retailing. Currently, Walmart is the only major national grocery chain who offers food items through their website, but that could change if the model proves advantageous for others. 'Showrooming' - the act of researching a product in a typical bricks-and-mortar store then purchasing it on Amazon for a cheaper price - has proven to be a thorn in the side of many chains. Although such a practice is unlikely to find its way into the Canadian grocery sector, it may still be an aspect of consumer behaviour to keep an eye on, especially if Amazon continues to become more popular amongst Canadians.

One smaller player in the grocery battle is the collection of pharmacies and convenience stores across the country who, over the last decade, have individually begun to offer more pantry items aside from their regular core products of prescriptions, cigarettes and lotto. In certain parts of the country, the move even led to an increase in some grocery store hours to fight off lost sales. Atlantic Canadian provinces (with a few municipal exceptions) have begun allowing year-round Sunday shopping in moves that are believed to be closely tied to pressure from national grocery chains. As a result, many independent convenience stores have ceased operation, or have been taken over by chains such as Needs (owned by Sobeys). Its common practice to find many private label brand items from leading grocers inside of a typical pharmacy or gas station, to further promote their product awareness and brand recognition.

 Yeliseev's Luxury Grocery, Moscow [Image Source]

There is no question that the Canadian grocery landscape is ever changing. The only constant that remains is the increasing competitiveness of the industry as a whole. Each major player can lay claim to a perceived advantage over another. Department store leaders Walmart and Target may attract shoppers for their low prices. Costco will bring them in with bulk-buying incentives and top quality meat, while Loblaws and Sobeys will entice customers with their ready-to-eat meals and loyalty programs. Even Amazon’s ‘outside the box’ approach could prove to be a real winner with its instant customer research and insight, low overhead and proven track record of success. Every national grocer in Canada - both new and established - has its strengths, so who is best poised to win in 2014? Well from here, it looks like it might just be the consumer.

Walmart.com Has its Best Sales Day Ever on Cyber Monday 2013

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Walmart today announced that Cyber Monday 2013 was the biggest online sales day in its history. The five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday is the highest five-day stretch in online sales for the retailer to date, and Walmart.com processed more than 1 billion page views during that period.
The top-selling items at Walmart.com on Cyber Monday included the following:
  • LG 50" 1080p 60Hz LED HDTV
  • Apple iPad 2 16GB with Wi-Fi
  • Fisher-Price Power Wheels Red Ford F150 Raptor 12-Volt Battery-Powered Ride-On
  • Mega Bloks First Builders Build 'n Learn Table Plus Bonus Play Set
  • TRIO Stealth G2 10.1" Tablet Dual Core with 16GB Memory (mobile top-seller)
  • Tilting Wall Mount for 37" to 70" Flat Panel TVs, with HDMI Cable (mobile top-seller)

“We had an all-time record sales day yesterday as the momentum we saw on Thanksgiving carried through to Cyber Monday,” said Joel Anderson, president and CEO, Walmart.com U.S. “We’re committed to giving our customers the best savings on the gifts they want most this holiday season, and we’re offering 200 online specials every day through Friday so customers can make the most of their budgets.”
Cyber Week continues as Walmart.com will offer 200 online specials every day through Friday, Dec. 6. Throughout this holiday season, Walmart.com is also offering free shipping on all orders of $35 or more – nearly 99 percent of Walmart.com items are eligible.  Online orders can also be shipped to local Walmart stores and in many instances, be picked up as early as the same day.    

B-roll of Cyber Monday orders being fulfilled and executive sound bites available at: http://news.walmart.com/media-library/videos/b-roll-cyber-monday-2013-results
SOURCE Walmart
Copyright (C) 2013 PR Newswire. All rights reserve

CONTROVERSIAL PROPOSAL COULD SEE WALMART OPEN IN DOWNTOWN TORONTO

Walmart could open a store on the west side of Downtown Toronto, near the popular Kensington Market neighbourhood. The store would be part of a 125,000 square-foot proposed retail project to be built by RioCan real estate investment trust.

The complex would be three floors, and Walmart would occupy levels two and three. Underground parking for about 300 cars would also be provided.
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Many feel the project is incompatible with the small-store feel of the adjacent Kensington Market area. Some have expressed concern that area shoppers will abandon the popular Kensington Market area for the new Walmart-anchored project.

Urban Planner David Fitzpatrick analysed the situation and feels Walmart won't harm the area. In a nutshell, he believes Walmart and Kensington Market attract substantially different customers looking for substantially different products. He goes so far as to say that business in the Kensington Market area could be improved with more people being attracted to the new Walmart, and the new Walmart's parking being used for Kensington shoppers. For David's excellent analysis, click here.

[Image Source]
A public meeting on the proposed development will be held by the City of Toronto's planning department at 7:00pm on June 6th at the College Street United Church at 452 College Street.

On Monday we'll announce and discuss two American luxury department stores contemplating Canadian retail space. Have an excellent weekend, and thank you for reading Retail Insider.

[RioCan website]

[Walmart website]

Vancouver's Canada Post Building Sold to Investors for $159million

Image: Wikipedia
Vancouver's Canada Post building has been sold to the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (bcIMC), one of Canada’s largest institutional investment managers. The new landlord plans to redevelop the site. The building sold for $159million, according to a Land Titles Office search. 

We previously reported on an expert's speculation that the entire block will be razed for redevelopment. These were via two interviews (links to INTERVIEW 1 & INTERVIEW 2). 


bcIMC spokeswoman Gwen-Anne Chittenden says: “Our vision is for a sustainable mixed-use development that will leverage the great transit and the nearby amenities that the site offers,” she said (to The Vancouver Sun).

That's rather vague. We called the source to our previous articles to ask their opinion on the sale. Our source tells us that we can expect the developer to bring an application to Vancouver City Hall to have the site 'upzoned' for 'maximum value'. The developer may then either 'act on' the density allowance by redeveloping the site or it may work out an agreement with the city to 'transfer density' from this site to one or more other future development sites, in return for retaining the architectural integrity of the current Canada Post building. 

A local commercial real estate broker informs us that both Target and Walmart want stores in Downtown Vancouver. The same broker says the current Canada Post site would be ripe for a redevelopment that would include at least one large retailers. Larger-format retailers have increasingly been looking for sites in Canadian city cores, as we discussed in a previous article

We will be watching the Canada Post Building's redevelopment closely and will report what we find. 

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Target's Canadian Merchandise Will be More Expensive Than in America

Image: Getty Images

Target's Canadian stores will have merchandise, on average, more expensive than that in American locations. It's an unfortunate reality of a geographically large country with relatively high import tariffs and a comparatively small population. 

A study by Field Agent Canada for The Globe and Mail shows Walmart's Canadian prices are, on average, 23% higher in Canada than in the US. In the US, Walmart's prices are only about 0.5% less than Target. We can likely expect Target's prices to be similarly higher when it opens its first Canadian stores in March. 

Target's answer to higher Canadian prices is that it will be a 'unique experience', offering differentiated merchandise (including designer collaborations) and experiential interiors that will keep Canadians coming back. Time will tell if this will be successful. 

So Canada: Will you shop at Canadian Target stores if their prices, on average, will be 23% higher than in the US? Or will you cross-border shop (or shop online) for bargains? 

[Online Source - Globe & Mail]

Target Canada website: www.target.ca

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Will Walmart Open REALLY Small Canadian Stores?

Image: http://nique.net
Walmart is thinking 'small'. It's opening a 2,500 square foot store on a university campus in Atlanta, GA, and already has 3,500 square foot store at a university in Arkansas. Could Walmart 'boutiques' come to Canada? 

It's a novel idea that might actually work in some markets. Walmart's low prices within a 'convenience store' might be welcomed by those otherwise paying higher prices at smaller stores in locations not served by larger-floorplate discount retailers. 

The mini-Walmart will include “ramen noodles, power bars, frozen pizza and soda” (According to this article) as well as some electronics like iPods, peripherals, and grocery items like frozen foods, fresh foods, 'grab-and-go' and beverage items.
Hello Mini-Walmart ;)
We may be reporting on what could become a new trend for Walmart in Canada. Target's Canadian store openings (starting in March) will give Walmart a run for its Canadian money. We'll keep our ear to the ground to see if any new, interesting retail concepts arrive in Canada. 

Source: http://nique.net/news/2013/01/11/16214

Walmart website: walmart.ca

Target website: www.target.ca



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Big-Box-Retail Coming To Downtown Canada

Costco in Downtown Vancouver, BC. Image: oztravelfiles.blogspot.com
On Monday we mentioned Target's imminent arrival in Canadian downtowns, including Vancouver and Toronto. Today we'll briefly examine the tendency towards big-box retailers moving into city centres.

Big Box retailers such as Wal-Mart, Costco, Michael's, Canadian Tire, Best Buy and others have traditionally been found in suburbs. As thousands of new condo dwellers populate Canadian downtown cores, ground-floor retail space in condo developments is increasingly being occupied by larger-format retailers previously limited to the suburbs.
Aura condo tower to include Marshall's and Bed Bath & Beyond. Image: http://www.condo-living-west.com
Toronto's Aura at College Park, for example, will be a massive residential tower with about 180,000 square feet of retail in its podium. Retail at Aura will include Marshall's, an American value-priced retailer. Bed Bath & Beyond will also be at Aura. Winners is already located in an adjoining building, and two grocery stores complete the retail area known as 'College Park'.

Big box retail downtown isn't new: Vancouver got a Costco store downtown in 2006. Included are about a thousand condo units in three towers (a fourth was recently added). Downtown Vancouver and Toronto have since opened numerous big-box stores including Winners, Homesense, Future Shop, Canadian Tire and others. As urbanites continue to flock into downtown cores, popular big-box retailers will continue to follow.
Canadian Tire in Downtown Toronto. Image: lazyphotographr.wordpress.com
Retail Insider will be keeping up with what large-format retailers will be moving into Canadian city centres. Target is actively seeking central Toronto and Vancouver space and we have been informed that at least one Downtown Toronto location has been secured. Target could open as many as three stores in Downtown Toronto, alone. A Downtown Vancouver location is in the works but a site hasn't been secured at this time. Downtown Calgary and Montreal should be watched closely, and even Edmonton is seeing a renewed vibrancy in its downtown core that will be followed by substantial retail.

Aura website: http://www.collegeparkcondos.com

Marshall's website: www.marshallscanada.ca



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Part 1: Vancouver's Canada Post to be Redeveloped: Insider Interview

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On Friday, October 26th we interviewed a knowledgeable Vancouver-based insider about the eventual redevelopment of Vancouver's Downtown Canada Post building. We previously reported that Canada Post in Downtown Vancouver will be redeveloped. The building is located on an entire city block (about 3 acres in size) in Downtown Vancouver. The federal-government-owned property is being offered for sale by CBRE commercial real estate brokers and may include a significant retail component.

Our insider agreed to be interviewed on this sale and potential development on the condition that they remain anonymous. They provided us with some very interesting information. This is 'Part One' of our interview. In a nutshell, our insider thinks the site will be re-zoned so that the current building can be demolished and new retail and residential towers can be built in its place. More below...

*****

Retail Insider: Will the current building be torn down or modified? 

Insider X: The last thing a developer wants is for the site to be designated as a 'heritage site' so that the current building has to be kept. Developers would ideally take this site with its full development potential. The site has a current density zoning of 7.0 FSR (Floor-Space Ratio, meaning 3 acres x 7 = allowable development size) and this could be upgraded through either re-zoning or via a city-sanctioned density increase. It's also in the seller's best interest that the site be re-zoned.

Retail Insider: What do you mean by re-zoning? 

Insider X: The site can be rezoned from its current density and use - generally commercial-only in a zoning area of C1 - to a more liberal zoning of CD-1, allowing for more flexible uses including residential towers.

Retail Insider: If this rezoning were allowed, would the entire project just be condo towers?

Insider X: Not likely. There would possibly be a significant residential component to the project, but you would also possibly see some major retail players try to take space in the development. Walmart, Target, Marshall's, and (La) Maison Simons all want locations in Downtown Vancouver. The Canada Post site could facilitate one or several of these, along with other stores and uses. 

Retail Insider: Walmart would want to be in Downtown Vancouver? 

Insider X: Possibly. Walmart is starting to build stores called 'City Walmart' in cities like Chicago. These are smaller stores and in the case of Walmart, focus more on food. 

Retail Insider: And Target? 

Insider X: Target is also opening urban stores, again, in Chicago and Manhattan. Numerous other urban Targets are in the works. Watch for an announcement soon for Downtown Toronto, as well. Target is actively searching for a Downtown Vancouver location and has mentioned this site. 

Retail Insider: Do you see La Maison Simons' first Vancouver store being Downtown? They tend to locate in the suburbs, from what I see on their website. 

Insider X: Simons wants to be Downtown. Despite its suburban-oriented stores, Simons sees the critical shopping mass of Downtown Vancouver. There aren't many other places in the Lower Mainland where it would succeed. Oakridge and Metrotown are the only two locations I can think of and the average Metrotown shopper is likely too lowbrow for Simons. Ivanhoe Cambridge (owner of Metrotown) will soon bring forward a redevelopment proposal of its Oakridge Shopping Centre, and I'm not sure yet if there would be room for a ~100,000 square foot Simons. 

Retail Insider: How likely is it that the current Post Office will be designated a 'heritage building'? We remember the old Public Library (now soon to be Victoria's Secret) and the former BC Hydro Building (now a condo tower) were designated as heritage properties, while each were built only in the 1950's. 

Insider X: Canada Post was built in either 1956 or 1958. Its exterior might have to be preserved on the Georgia Street side, but it should be fair game to be demolished otherwise. As I mentioned, developers and the landlord will fight to ensure the entire site can be redeveloped, as this would be most economical and profitable. 

Retail Insider: Is there a height limit for this site? How would that affect potential redevelopment? 

Insider X: The current zoning allows for a height up to about 450 feet. The site sits in a view cone, however, meaning height could be restricted to about half that amount. View cones are a pain for Vancouver developers (X chuckles) and some city counselors only support them so they don't lose votes. Height limits and view cones are a detriment to this city, in my opinion. 

Retail Insider: Do you think Vancouver City Counsel will stop the teardown of the Post Office?

Insider X: You didn't hear this from me (X chuckles) but a lot of these deals are done way before the public is even consulted. The Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts for example. Also the Granville Loops. All of those decisions were made way before the public were consulted. Public consultation is a great way to make voters think they have a say. 

Retail Insider: You mean no matter what we do, Canada Post might be a goner? 

Insider X: I won't say just yet, but don't be surprised when you hear an announcement about a significant complete redevelopment of this city block. 

*****

***UPDATE: Due to Hurricane Sandy, we will be delaying our publication of Part Two of this interview until Wednesday, October 31st.***


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Vancouver's Canada Post to Become Target or Walmart?

Canada Post building in Vancouver. Image: changingcitybook.com
We've gotten word that now Vancouver's large Downtown post office (Federally owned and used by Canada Post) is for sale, several larger-format retailers are interested in the space. Walmart and Target are searching for Downtown Vancouver space with no success. We've been informed that they are in talks with potential purchasers to occupy space either in a restored space or an entirely new, purpose-built complex including retail, offices and residences.

This is very new information and we've been informed that we will be provided more information tomorrow by a Vancouver-based commercial real estate broker. Please stay tuned for what may become a very controversial commercial real estate project in the heart of Downtown Vancouver.


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Nordstrom, Simons,Target or Walmart in New Downtown Toronto Mall?

Proposed Oxford Place. Image: Oxford Properties

We have received word that Oxford Properties' proposed new Downtown Toronto shopping centre is already being eyed by retailers such as Nordstrom, La Maison Simons, Target and Walmart. A new 1million square foot shopping centre is being proposed by Oxford (along with convention/office/residential/hotel space and possibly a casino) which may rival The Toronto Eaton Centre for patrons and possibly exceed its size. The mall would be located on a mult-use, 11 acre site beside the Rogers Centre and the CN Tower.

Nordstrom, Simons, Walmart and Target are actively seeking downtown Toronto space and have expressed frustations at lack of retail availability. The Toronto Eaton Centre is space-limited, and Sears doesn't seem willing to give-in to Cadillac Fairview's offer to buy-out its lease for a new flagship Nordstrom store (or for Simons, also eying a chunk of Sears' space). We reported earlier that Nordstrom is seeking 225-270,000 square feet, while Simons wants 100,000+ square feet in Downtown Toronto.

The Toronto Eaton Centre's non-anchor square footage is 582,000 square feet (Sears, Canadian Tire and Best Buy add another 1.035million square feet). The proposed Oxford Place would be around 1 million square feet, making it possibly 'grander' than Toronto's Eaton Centre's non-anchor retail portion. More importantly Oxford Place could become home to substantial anchor-tenants, ranging from lower-end big box retailers to large luxury retailers, depending on what the landlord deems marketable.

Oxford is in the preliminary planning stages of its new project, and we've been told that it is being pressured to bring forward its planning application to Toronto City Hall 'asap' by potential tenants desperately seeking large downtown retail spaces. We will keep you updated on what might become a very exciting Canadian retail development.

Oxford Properties website: www.oxfordproperties.com

Toronto Eaton Centre website:  www.torontoeatoncentre.com

La Maison Simons website: www.simons.ca


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