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Lolë to open Montreal flagship

May 28, 2015

It’s an exciting time for Montreal-based activewear brand, Lolë, which is preparing to open a marquee flagship store in the epicentre of Montreal.

Located at 954 Rue Ste-Catherine West, beside other destination fashion retailers such as Simons and BCBG, the 2,700 sq. ft. store—Lolë’s largest in Canada—will capture the essence of this innovative Canadian brand. 

The turn-of-the-century building is a beautiful dramatic property, featuring 50 ft. ceilings and a large glass storefront, ideal for reflecting Lolë’s refreshing take on the traditional storefront. 

Channeling its core business philosophy of maintaining an active and balanced lifestyle, Lolë stores, referred to as ateliers, embody a social retail experience by offering consumers a place to connect and engage with not only the brand, but also one another. 

Through its ateliers, Lolë fosters relationships with its target audience by organizing free twice-weekly exercise meet-ups at local parks, as well as lectures by yoga\pilates specialists and nutrition experts. Tea and fruits are served daily.The new Montreal flagship will take things to the next level, with a dedicated yoga and fitness studio on the mezzanine, where various complimentary classes will be offered daily. This engaging space is close to the company’s head office and will be a wonderful example for the brand, which is actively expanding, both in Canada and internationally. 

As Bernard Mariette, President and CEO of Lolë, aptly puts it: “We believe this central location will further showcase Lolë to our Montreal consumers and to the international visitors that come to our city each year. Situated in the heart of the city and attracting over 29 million visitors per year, this prestigious stretch of Rue Ste-Catherine West is a prime location for our brand and will provide Lolë with high visibility, increased store traffic and prestige.” 

The brand was conceived in Montreal’s Longueuil area in 2002 and is now part of Quebec-based Coalision Inc., which operates in the U.S., France and Hong Kong. About this time last year, a group of strategic and financial investors led by Bernard Mariette, CEO & president of Coalision Inc., purchased a majority interest in Coalision from Kilmer Capital Partners. It’s an impressive strategic and financial partner group that includes, Pelican LP, Simon Equity Partners, Groupe Desmarais, members of the Hermès family and the Fonds de solidarité FTQ. The move gives the brand international reach as it works to grow its retail, web and wholesale business: Lolë has licensed partner locations operating in Canada, U.S, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy.

“With 46 Lolë stores in major cities around the world, including flagships in the prestigious Marais area in Paris, the world renowned Soho neighbourhood in New York and now on Rue Ste-Catherine in Montreal, our storefronts give us a window to the world, showcasing our business philosophy and our focus of leveraging intelligent consumption,” says Mariette. “This expansion integrates our distribution network of more than 1,600 points of sale, including 210 shop-in-shops.”In Canada, Lolë has 22 stand-alone locations, including two airport stores, and it continues to grow: In addition to the planned Montreal store, its second Canadian outlet location will open early this summer at Vancouver’s McArthurGlen Designer Outlet, while in late summer is will open a 1,250 sq. ft. store at The Core in Calgary, marking the retailer’s first store in the city and fifth in the province of Alberta. Lolë is interested in 1,250 to 2,000 sq. ft. on downtown high streets, in super regional shopping centres and select outlets. 

At Think Retail, we’ve been working as Lolë’s exclusive Canadian real estate broker since 2011 and we’re proud to watch their incredible Canadian brand establish itself across the country, and around the globe. 

Over the next five years, Lolë plans to strengthen and develop its presence in existing markets and triple global sales: The goal is to open, on average, 25 new stores per year. 

To learn more about this visionary brand and its expansion plans in Canada, visit www.lole.com.

Canada sounds good to Skullcandy

May 27, 2015

Skullcandy is ready to take a bite out of the Canadian market, as it seeks to open its dynamic retail store concept in key outlet malls across the country. 

The company—known the world over for its unique array of headphones, earbuds, wireless speakers and other consumer electronic accessories—was founded in 2003 as the original lifestyle and performance audio brand inspired by the creativity of youth culture. 

Founder Rick Alden is the creator of several successful action sports companies and a lifelong industry enthusiast. His distinct collections, which range from $19.99 to $149.99, are sold online and in retail stores in more than 80 countries.  Now the publically traded company, based out of Park City, Utah, is partnering with Massachusetts-based Brattle Retail Partners to introduce the direct-to-consumer Skullcandy Factory Store concept. Together, the partners have a combined 40-plus years of retail and franchising experience.

The outlet stores are already taking off in the U.S., where last fall they opened two—one in Las Vegas and another in San Diego—and are pursuing plans to open 20-plus locations in the next four years.

The Skullcandy Factory Store vision is to showcase one of the world’s most distinct audio brands in unique retail atmosphere where consumers can sample and interact with products in a space that reflects the integrity and passion of the Skullcandy brand.

The retail design encourages customers to peruse its listening stations to sample all products using personal mobile devices or the interactive Skullcandy app on in-store iPads. The brand is further brought to life on big screens playing custom Skullcandy videos featuring endorsements from top athletes—the company is involved in the sponsorship of everything from skateboarding to wakeboarding, motocross, snowboarding, skiing and biking. As well, Skullcandy has an NBA-inspired collection and relationships with various basketball teams (they also have serious credibility in the music world, having partnered with Jay-Z to design its popular Roc Nation Aviator headphones). In addition, stores feature an in-house video gaming section where customers are encouraged to hang out and test Skullcandy’s wireless gaming headphones.

At Think Retail, we’re thrilled to partner with Skullcandy as its exclusive real estate representative in Canada. This is an exciting dynamic company with an admirable corporate culture that delivers impressive results—net sales in 2014 hit $247.8 million, up 18% from 2013. Their new outlet retail concept has amazing potential and is sure to be a huge hit here in Canada, as it is in the U.S.

Skullcandy is prepared to open immediately in select outlets, seeking 600 to 1,000 sq. ft. (smaller is better). The initial focus is on British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. The plan is to finalize three or four stores in the next 12 to 15 months and open up to a dozen outlets in the next three to four years. 

Ideally, Skullcandy stores will fit alongside co-tenants that share a passion for the youth culture, active lifestyle, and setting trends, such as surf, skate and snowboard brands, as well as sunglass and active apparel for men. 

For more about this exciting brand and its retail vision, visit www.skullcandy.com or contact the Think Retail Team.

Fossil gears up for outlet expansion with opening at Vaughan Mills

April 16, 2015

The time is right for Fossil to expand its outlet presence, following the opening of a new 4,000 sq. ft. outlet store at Vaughan Mills. 

Located just 30 minutes north of downtown Toronto, the Vaughan Mills store is the retailer’s second-largest outlet in Canada. A true shopping destination, Vaughan Mills, which is owned and managed by Ivanhoe Cambridge, is a wonderful fit for the Fossil brand and positions it alongside the world’s leading fashion and lifestyle retailers.

The Texas-based, watch and fashion accessories specialist has built a strong reputation on more than 30 years of vintage style, offering its unique collections of bags and accessories, as well as signature durable watches in an array of fresh stylish colors. 

In addition to designing its own watches, Fossil Group has licensing agreements in place to make and sell timepieces for major brands, including Adidas, Emporio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld, Michael Kors, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Burberry and Tory Burch, which last fall launched its debut collection to much acclaim. In February, Fossil and Kate Spade Company signed a global licensing agreement for the design, development and distribution of kate spade new york watches through 2025—the collection will be launched in 2016.

In another exciting bit of news, Fossil made headlines last month when it was announced the company was partnering with Google to use its watch-making expertise to create the highly anticipated Android wearable smartwatches, which are expected to hit the market by the end of this year. 

Founded in 1984, Fossil has more than 550 stores and 4,000 wholesale locations in 15-plus countries around the globe. It went public in 1993 and today it’s a $4.3 billion company, which has reported double-digit sales growth in four of the past five years.

In Canada, 2014 was an extraordinary year for Fossil, which opened six regular stores—a flagship on Bloor Street in Toronto; Masonville Place in London, Ont.; Lime Ridge in Hamilton, Ont.; Market Mall in Calgary; Quartier Dix30 in Montreal; and Polo Park in Winnipeg—and three outlets, including Niagara Outlet Collection, Tanger Outlets Ottawa and Montreal Premium Outlets. 

Think Retail, which is Fossil’s exclusive Canadian real estate broker, negotiated all the openings and is working with the company on its next phase of growth.  

The focus at the moment is to continue expanding Fossil’s outlet division, seeking about 3,000 sq. ft. in major markets, with a particular eye on Edmonton and Winnipeg. 

With the opening of the Vaughan Mills outlet store, Fossil has 34 Canadian locations. 
For more about this dynamic brand, visit www.fossilcanada.ca or contact the Think Retail team.

Lole Set for Calgary Market Entry

April 08, 2015

Refreshing: It’s the perfect word to describe the Lolë brand and its retail story, as the Montreal-based company continues to grow at home and on the international front. 

Lolë, which specializes in the design and sale of elegant activewear for women, is preparing to open its first Calgary store at The Core. With a sophisticated merchandise mix, including the expanded Holt Renfrew and flagship Harry Rosen, the recently renovated shopping centre is the ideal venue for Lolë to make its foray into the Calgary market. 

The 1,250 sq. ft. store is slated to open in July and marks the retailer’s fifth store in the province of Alberta. It also has a store in Banff, two in Edmonton, one at Edmonton Airport, and there is interest in opening additional stores in the province, with a focus on super-regional shopping centres.

Lolë now has 22 stand-alone locations in Canada, including two airport stores, as well as 10 in the U.S. and nine in Europe, according to its website. As well, it has licensed partner locations operating in Canada, U.S, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy.

Its locations are a refreshing take on the traditional storefront. Referred to as ateliers, each organizes free twice-weekly exercise meet-ups at local parks, as well as lectures by yoga\pilates specialists and nutrition experts. Tea and fruits are served daily.

The brand was conceived in Montreal’s Longueuil area in 2002 and is now part of Quebec-based Coalision Inc., which operates in the U.S., France and Hong Kong. 

About this time last year, a group of strategic and financial investors led by Bernard Mariette, CEO & president of Coalision Inc., purchased a majority interest in Coalision from Kilmer Capital Partners. It’s a dynamic strategic and financial partner group that includes, Pelican LP, Simon Equity Partners, Groupe Desmarais, members of the Hermès family and the Fonds de solidarité FTQ.

The move gives Lolë added reach, with the support to expand its retail and web business internationally, as well as its global wholesale business (it opened a flagship in SoHo last year). 

The company also continues to grow in Canada, as it prepares to open the Calgary store, as well as its second Canadian outlet location at Vancouver’s McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in June (the other, a 2,000 sq. ft. store, opened at Toronto Premium Outlets last fall). 

Lolë is interested in 1,250 to 2,000 sq. ft. on downtown high streets, in super regional shopping centres and select outlets. Think Retail is Lolë’s exclusive Canadian real estate broker and we’ve been working with the company since 2011. 

It’s an exciting journey, especially as we watch the brand use its innovative community-building strategies to lay down roots and forge meaningful connections with consumers in major centres across Canada. The company garnered international attention and media coverage for its White Tour, where thousands of people come together in cities to practice yoga, as well as promote peace and wellness.

In a refreshing twist (compared to so many retail stories of late), last year Lolë exceeded its sales forecast and reported sales in excess of $105 million, according to media reports: The brand continues to seek growth opportunities and predicts revenue to double to about $210 million by 2017/2018.

Le Creuset cooks up plans for five new Canadian locations in 2015

February 02, 2015

The iconic Le Creuset brand is adored the world over for serving its signature pop of colourful sophistication.

Founded in Fresnoy Le Grand in Northern France in 1925, Le Creuset built an unparalleled reputation for its highest quality Enameled Cast Iron cookware. The company has a strong sense of quality and tradition—its cast iron is still manufactured in the original foundry and each piece passes through the hands of 15 skilled artisans to ensure flawless perfection.

The Times of London inducted Le Creuset into its respected list of the “Top 100 Worldwide Brands” and its popularity continues to grow (helped no doubt by its status among celebrity chefs and the honour of being chosen as one of Oprah’s Favourite Things). Le Creuset is the most searched housewares brand in North America, according to AOL, Google and Yahoo.

Under the guidance of president Paul van Zuydam, who bought the company in 1988, Le Creuset is fully self- financed with a consistent record of very strong financial performance, bolstered by the company’s strategic efforts to branch into new markets and categories. In 1991, it  purchased Hallen International Inc., a maker of popular wine accessories under the Screwpull trademark. Le Creuset continues in the tradition of quality, with its evolving collections of exciting kitchen tools and gadgets, dinnerware, professional stainless steel cookware, textiles and related accessories. 

While its pieces are associated with the finest French style and cuisine, the company has carefully built a strong international presence, in part by embracing local cooking trends with pieces such as, its cast iron wok, an Indian karahi dish, a Japanese sukiyaki pan, an Italian risotto pot and a Moroccan tagine.

Today Le Creuset has subsidiaries around the globe, including the US., U.K., Japan, Germany, Hong-Kong, Switzerland, South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Scandinavia, Italy and Canada. It’s distributed in more than 30 countries, via its partnerships with specialty retailers and high-end department stores, as well as its own global network of more than 250 retail locations that carry an exclusive selection of its diverse products.

Here in Canada, Think Retail has worked with Le Creuset to open four stand-alone stores—a 1,448 sq. ft. flagship at Place Ste. Foy in Quebec City, as well as Carrefour Laval in Montreal, the Chinook Centre in Calgary and the stunning newly renovated store (pictured) at Sherway Gardens in Etobicoke, Ont.

The stores’ ambiance truly reflects the brand’s sophisticated, yet playful, essence. With its fresh neutral palette, Le Creuset’s colourful cookware and unique selection of kitchen tools take centre stage. 

Le Creuset plans to open five locations in Canada this year and the focus is on 800 to 1,300 sq. ft. in super regional malls and high streets in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

For more information about this best-in-class brand, please visit www. Lecreuset.ca or contact the Think Retail team.

International Currency Exchange Confirm Plans For Canadian Expansion

January 27, 2015

International Currency Exchange (ICE)—one of the most established and respected retail currency exchange brands in the world—is expanding across Canada and Think Retail is excited to be part of the process. 
With 300 locations in 20 countries, the U.K.-based company has a strong presence in here in Canada, where it already has more than 50 locations coast to coast, in shopping centres, retail hubs and most major airports, including Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa, Victoria and Quebec City.

The plan to open at least six (6) more during the next 12 to 18 months, with a focus on super-regional shopping centres and street in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. ICE is versatile, operating both kiosks (100 sq. ft.) and inline stores of 100 to 550 sq. ft..

Founded in 1973, ICE, a Public Limited Company, is owned by the Lenlyn Group and is a sister company to Raphaels Bank. It has a combined annual group turnover in excess of US$1.8 billion. 

ICE’s headquarters are in Piccadilly, London, however it has solid roots in Canada, having been Canada’s trusted foreign exchange specialist for more than a quarter century. 

ICE boasts a number of strong strategic partnerships here and in 2012 the company was named the exclusive foreign exchange partner of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA).

Further, the company has built a reputation for offering an extensive range of major and exotic currencies that cater to Canada’s diverse and well-travelled population.
On the retail front, ICE is recognized for its award-winning and innovative branch designs, plus its popular Click & Collect service, whereby individuals or their travel agents can place currency orders by phone or online, to be picked up at the retail location of the customer’s choice.

In addition to currency conversion, ICE offers a number services, such as currency wires, money drafts, all kinds of cheques, money orders, travelers cheques and travelers GST returns. As well, some stores facilitate the sale of gold bullions, souvenir coins, Olympic coins and travelers insurance, while operating ATM bank machines.

For more information about this marquee brand, visit www.ice-canada.ca or contact the Think Retail team.