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The best coffee shop in France is now expanding in Montreal—say hello to Columbus Café & Co.

September 28, 2021

The best coffee shop in France is now expanding in Montreal—say hello to Columbus Café & Co.

Warm, inviting and modern, the Columbus Café & Co has it all and the French concept is about to become a Montreal destination. 
Founded in France in 1994, Columbus Café & Co is known as the first coffee chain in France. The brand quickly gained momentum due to its premium coffee products, delicious menu and well designed spaces that are bright, unique and beautiful—places that you want to visit again and again for coffee with friends, a lunch or a grab and go on the way to work. 
The company kicked off its international expansion in 2001 with a site in Brussels and began franchising in 2007. With 27 years of experience and more than 200 locations under its belt, Columbus Café & Co has a winning formula that covers all customers wants, from on-premise atmosphere to a thriving retail business. Voted the best coffee-shop chain in France by Allegra Coffee Symposium, Columbus Café & Co is ready to expand in North America and debuted on Mont-Royal Avenue in Montreal in 2020. 
As a kick off, Columbus Cafe & Co. is filling the void left by many Starbucks closures, taking over former locations across Montreal. Columbus Café recently opened on Park Avenue and is getting ready to open in another former Starbucks site: The 1,500 sq. ft. café at 1370 St. Catherine W (the corner of Crescent) is scheduled to open by mid-November. Next up, Columbus just reached agreement to open in a 1,000 sq. ft. location at Carrefour Laval.
The company is on a roll and actively looking to expand further in Montreal. High-traffic street front locations are ideal, but Columbus will also consider the right fit in busy super regional malls, open-air centres and other non-conventional locations. High traffic is the key and the optimal size is 1,500 sq. ft. 
With its logo—a big-hearted, but sophisticated bear—on-point branding and fabulous sense of design and space, the Columbus Café & Co. is the perfect addition to neighbourhoods seeking a high-end coffee shop with great food and atmosphere. It doesn’t feel like a cookie cutter chain, but rather a neighbourhood staple where people can gather with friends or relax with good coffee, healthy smoothies, milkshakes, fresh juices, iced drinks and gourmet sandwiches and salads, plus an array of quality baked goods and sweet treats. 
The Think Retail team is honoured to partner with Columbus Café & Co. on its Canadian expansion here in Montreal. This is a quality organization at every level that customers will quickly fall in love with. For more information, contact the Think Retail Team. 

Oscar Wylee eyes Canadian debut and serious growth

August 20, 2021

Oscar Wylee eyes Canadian debut and serious growth

Australia-based eyewear company Oscar Wylee has its sights set on Canada, with two inaugural locations under construction and aggressive expansion ahead.
This family-run business has grown from a small ecommerce operation into an international organization. Brothers Jack and Bob Teoh took over the business, opening the first stores in 2015 and today there are more than 90 locations across Australia, Singapore and New Zealand. 
Oscar Wylee is preparing to open its first stores in Canada at West Edmonton Mall and construction is underway on its new site at Halifax Shopping Centre. Its stores are a reflection of the brand itself—welcoming and beautifully designed, with a modern edge. 
The company has also reached an agreement to open four more locations in November in Calgary and Toronto. Details to be announced shortly. 
Through its joint-venture program, the company also grows by partnering with optometrists to offer patients the full package—quality professional eye care, as well as an unparalleled retail experience.  The brand—modern, fresh and fashion-focused—is known for its “2 Pairs From $199” price point across its optical and sunglass range. 
Research shows eye care is a flourishing market in Canada, as consumers desire choice and experiential shopping: People don’t want to be tied down to the same glasses for years on end, they want glasses that reflect their mood, their outfit and there’s a desire, especially among younger demographics, to shake things up with a variety of looks and glasses that reflect their personality. 
Oscar Wylee is positioned to capture this momentum. 
Through its branded signature frames and sunglasses, the company offers consumers items they can’t get elsewhere. Oscar Wylee has a strong fan base made up of people drawn to their quality collection, which combine on-trend design with state-of-the-art materials. 
Think Retail is excited to work with the experience Oscar Wylee team to establish and build their presence across Canada. In addition to the new stores, the company is aggressively targeting Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Ideal spaces are 700 to 1,000 sq. ft. in shopping malls and along busy high streets in proximity to noteworthy fashion or general merchandise retailers. Its award-winning stores are designed with patient care top of mind, offering a clean, modern aesthetic for a relaxing experience. 
This is a stellar tenant with a strong global brand presence and expansion experience. For more about this innovative brand and its Canadian growth plans, contact the Think Retail team.

Foodtastic continues major growth with Milestones acquisition

June 17, 2021

Foodtastic continues major growth with Milestones acquisition

Foodtastic continues to build its portfolio of fantastic brands with the acquisition of the high-profile Milestones restaurant brand. 
Quebec-based Foodtastic is a culinary success story and a leader in the restaurant franchising business. It purchased Milestones from Recipe Unlimited Corporation and the deal includes all of the assets comprising the Milestones restaurant brand.
"We are extremely impressed by the Milestones restaurant brand and are excited to welcome them into the Foodtastic family," said Peter Mammas, president and CEO of Foodtastic. "We look forward to welcoming all our new franchisees, teammates and customers. This acquisition is consistent with our strategy of acquiring quality Canadian brands with growth potential, and we are excited to introduce Milestones to the Quebec market."
The first Milestones opened on Denman Street in Vancouver in 1989 and now there are more than 40 casual-dining locations in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Ontario. 
Foodtastic is on an upward trajectory, aggressively and successfully expanding top restaurant brands across the country and beyond. With more than 370 restaurants and $390 million in annualized sales, the franchisor owns multiple restaurant concepts, including Second Cup, Au Coq, La Belle et La Boeuf, Monza, Carlos & Pepe's, Souvlaki Bar, Nickels, Rotisseries Benny, Chocolato, Big Rig, Bacaro, Copper Branch, Tommy Café, Gatto Matto, La Chambre and L'Gros Luxe. 
The Milestones acquisition is the latest highpoint in Foodtastic’s growth journey. 
"By selling Milestones to an experienced operator like Foodtastic, the transaction should enable both companies to accelerate growth and better serve their customers," said Frank Hennessey, CEO of Recipe, which operates 25 recognizable brands, including Swiss Chalet, St-Hubert, The Keg, Pickle Barrel Bier Markt and 1909 Taverne Moderne. "This transaction enables Recipe to further rationalize our portfolio to focus on large brands that generate significant free cash flow and dominate their segment with younger brands that offer attractive opportunities for accelerated new restaurant growth. While it is always difficult to depart with valued franchisees and teammates, we feel that Foodtastic is the right parent for Milestones at this stage of its history."
Foodtastic is proving itself a major player in the restaurant space, with a string of strategic acquisitions and impressive results. It’s already shaping up to be an exciting 2021 for Foodtastic, which earlier this year bought the Second Cup Coffee Co. chain from Aegis Brands Inc. then, in May, announced another major acquisition—plant-based powerhouse Copper Branch.
The timing is ideal: The pent-up demand for restaurants and eating out continues to grow across the country, as Canadians emerge from pandemic-related lockdowns.  
At Think Retail we are thrilled to watch this Quebec-based company execute its vision and we congratulate the Foodtastic team on their latest acquisition. 
For more information or to talk about Foodtastic’s exciting growth plans, contact the Think Retail Team. 

Dream team: Foodtastic acquires plant-based powerhouse, Copper Branch

May 17, 2021

Dream team: Foodtastic acquires plant-based powerhouse, Copper Branch

Plant-based eating is proving popular with the palette, prompting Foodtastic to get in on the action with acquisition of Copper Branch. 
At Think Retail, we are huge fans of both companies and are thrilled to see this partnership come to fruition. 
Copper Branch, which built an extraordinary brand based on its innovative and delicious 100% Plant-Based – Power Food menu, set out to bring plant-based mainstream and the acquisition by Foodtastic, a leader in the restaurant franchising business with more than 370 restaurants and $390 million in annualized sales, is the culmination of that mission. 
"Copper Branch is the largest Vegan restaurant brand in the world, and we are happy to welcome it into the Foodtastic Family" said Peter Mammas, president and CEO of Foodtastic. "We look forward to working with all our new franchisees and emerging through this pandemic with a revitalized leader in the plant powered restaurant space. This acquisition is consistent with our strategy of acquiring quality Canadian brands with growth potential."
Foodtastic is the franchisor of multiple high-profile restaurant concepts including, Second Cup, Au Coq, La Belle et La Boeuf, Monza, Carlos & Pepe's, Souvlaki Bar, Nickels, Rotisseries Benny, Chocolato, Big Rig, Bacaro, Rotisserie Joliette, Tommy Café, Gatto Matto, La Chambre and L'Gros Luxe. Copper Branch enhances the company’s portfolio and gives it a powerful foothold in the accelerating plant-based restaurant market.  
Established in Montreal in 2014, the Copper Branch quickly became a leader and driving force behind what is now a major food movement. Founder and former chairman, Rio Infantino spent 25 years serving up traditional fast food, before setting out to redefine the QSR experience by turning “real” nourishing gourmet power foods into fast food for health-conscious time-strapped consumers looking for fresh options.  Today, it operates more than 40 restaurants, mostly in Canada, but also some in the U.S.
"Since its beginning, Copper Branch has been on a mission to empower the health and lives of our customers through our inspired, wholesome plant-based menu,” said Infantino. “I am proud to have seen the brand grow and I look forward to its next chapter and continued success with Foodtastic. An experienced and dedicated company, I know Copper Branch is in good hands for a bright future." 
Foodtastic looks to aggressively grow the brand in Canada, as well as internationally, with more than 40 new locations expected to open in the next 36 months. 
"We are very proud of the mission of our organization and the progress we have achieved in creating value and delivering a sustainable, plant powered experience for our guests," said Trish Paterson, CEO of Copper Branch. "This relationship will enable us to move more quickly and efficiently to bring Copper Branch's brand to a new global customer base while driving improved operational efficiency and resources for our franchisees." 
We are excited to see what’s next for this innovative concept, as it grows with the visionary leadership team at Foodtastic. 
Questions or comments? Contact the Think Retail team

Retail and business expert Martin Lamarche joins Think Retail

April 12, 2021

Retail and business expert Martin Lamarche joins Think Retail

Think Retail is thrilled to welcome Martin Lamarche to our growing and high-performing team.
Martin brings to the table a dynamic entrepreneurial spirit and strong focus on customer service excellence, which will be invaluable to our amazing clients.
With more than 20 years of experience in the retail and wholesale apparel industry, including product development, sales and management, Martin knows the retail scape and offers a unique perspective that will help brands to grow their footprint in the Quebec market and across Canada.
Martin has a diverse business background and is well positioned to offer insights fuelled by strong analytical, interpersonal and negotiation skills.
Most recently, as CEO and co-founder of Berso Branding and Retail Inc., Martin created an innovative immersive retail concept designed for tech-savvy new parents.
Previously, he served as Divisional Vice-President, Children Category, for Aubainerie, a Montreal-based fashion brand that operates more than 50 locations.
Martin also spent eight years with Montreal-based Boyz Group Inc. as Divisional Vice-President of national and international business and product development. In this role, Martin travelled extensively in Europe and Asia Pacific for fashion and product research. This international experience gave him a unique foundation and valuable insights into global retail trends and opportunities.
A creative and confident leader, Martin is a gifted communicator and the type of person you want in your corner. We are thrilled to have him in ours, and working on behalf of Think Retail clients.
Please join us in welcoming Martin to the team!
Martin can be reached at mlamarche@thinkretail.ca or 514-607-9783

Second Cup Coffee Co. acquisition is fantastic news for Foodtastic

February 09, 2021

Second Cup Coffee Co. acquisition is fantastic news for Foodtastic

Quebec-based Foodtastic is building on its stellar line up of franchise foodservice brands with the acquisition of Second Cup Coffee Co.
"Second Cup has been a Canadian staple for almost 45 years and we're excited to welcome them into the Foodtastic family," Peter Mammas, President and CEO of Foodtastic, said following the announcement.  
Think Retail congratulates the Foodtastic team on the strategic acquisition of this iconic Canadian coffee brand, which presenting exciting potential for growth and innovative partnerships. 
Foodtastic, a leader in the restaurant franchising industry, purchased the Canadian coffee brand from Mississauga-based Aegis Brands Inc. for $14 million in cash, plus a post-closing earn-out. The deal allows Aegis, formerly known as The Second Cup Ltd., to focus on its other businesses, including the Hemisphere Cannabis Co.
We see the Second Cup chain as the ideal partner for Foodtastic and the move is keeping with a mandate to ramp up growth with new and existing brands following a $47-million investment from Restaurant Royalty Partners in December 2018. 
Since then, Foodtastic has made several exciting announcements, including the addition of Ottawa’s Big Rig Kitchen & Brewery and Quebec-based Chocolato to its portfolio of marquee restaurant concepts. Foodtastic is well-positioned as a leader in the restaurant franchising business, with more than 130 restaurants—brands include, Au Coq, La Belle et La Boeuf, Monza, Carlos & Pepe's, Souvlaki Bar, Nickels, Rotisseries Benny and Bacaro—and $240 million in annualized sales.
"We look forward to working with all our new franchisees and emerging through this pandemic with a revitalized Canadian leader in the premium coffee segment. This acquisition is consistent with our strategy of acquiring quality Canadian brands with growth potential," explains Mammas. 
In 2020, Second Cup operated 244 locations across the country and pivoted quickly to adjust to the pandemic. It closed underperforming cafés, but also launched an ecommerce platform; announced plans to sell via retail locations; and outlined a plan to open 14 “non-traditional” locations in places such as hospitals. In August, it partnered with Petro-Canada to pilot three drive-through locations at gas stations in Ontario. 
Think Retail is honoured to work with Foodtastic as it builds its portfolio and charts innovative plans for its strong network of foodservice concepts. For more information about Foodtastic and its portfolio, visit the Foodtastic website or contact the Think Retail team