Blog

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.

Bizou Continues Global Push

January 26, 2015

Canadian fashion accessories specialist Bizou offers a refreshing good-news story in Canada’s retail landscape, as the company compels consumers with its unique designs, propelling major expansion, both domestically and internationally.

Founded in 1984 by retail vetran Marcel Labrecque, today Bizou operates more than 120 stores in six provinces across Canada, as well as France and Saudi Arabia.

Now, the company is looking forward to considerable expansion, with plans to open at least four more Canadian stores—500 to 850 sq. ft. in 2015. The primary focus will be on further building the brand in Ontario, however Bizou is also prepared to open additional locations in Quebec and the Maritime region, where it already has a strong presence. 

Last year, Bizou branched out with major openings in marquee Canadian locations, including Montreal Premium Outlets, Montreal’s Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport; and Place d’Orleans.

The Montreal-based company has also made its mark internationally. In 2013 it opened at La Toison For in Dijon, as part of license agreement with KBS Retail. In September 2014 Bizou opened at Panorama Mall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and just last week, opened it second and third locations in the Kingdom.

Bizou’s move into Saudi Arabia is part of license agreement with Qaiymah Products Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rubaiyat Co. This company was founded by the well-known Binzagr family in 1980 and is a key player in the Saudi market—they are the exclusive Saudi wholesaler and operator for premium luxury brands, including A\X Armani, Gucci, Prada, Ermenegildo Zegna and more. Bizou will work with Qaiymah to open more than 20 stores in Saudi Arabia during the next few years.

Think Retail is proud to have partnered with Bizou for 17 years and witnessed first hand its extraordinary growth and transformation. 

Bizou’s sales have increased for five straight years. The company also boasts a fresh, modern store design and its products are both highly desirable and affordable.

Bizou specializes in ladies retail fashion jewelry and accessories, but what sets it apart is that the majority of its stainless steel and sterling silver jewellery products are the work of celebrated in-house designers, who remain ahead of the curve by travelling the world for inspiration on trends and designs. 

It all started with one boutique 30 years ago and now Bizou is evolving into an international phenom, spurred by its unique combination of creative and business savvy. 

Lole Opens Whistler Store

December 08, 2014

Lole has begun its expansion into the province of British Columbia, by opening at the Sunspree Hotel in Whistler. The store is 1069 square feet and is situated in the heart of the Whistler Village Stroll. Neighbouring tenants include North Face, Helly Hansen, Columbia,  and Footlocker, …etc.

Lole specializes in the sale of activewear for the urban woman. Company stores are called ateliers. Each location offers free exercise meet-ups twice weekly at the local park, as well as, lectures given by yoga\pilates specialists, and nutrition experts. Tea and fruits are served daily at each store location.

It’s been a very busy year for Lole. The company also opened locations at Toronto Premium Outlets, Square One, and on Banff Avenue (in Alberta). These agreements were negotiated by Think Retail, Lole’s exclusive Canadian real estate broker.

Lole also opened a flagship location on Mercer Street, in the prominent Soho district of New York.
Looking forward, Lole has already confirmed that it will open its first location in Vancouver, at the McArthur Glen Designer Outlets. The centre’s grand opening is scheduled for May 2015.

Further, the company is prepared to open an additional 4-5 new locations in Canada, in 2015. Markets of interest include Calgary and Vancouver. Size requirements are 1250-2000 sq.ft. Super regional malls, downtown high streets, and outlet centres will be considered. Preferred co-tenants are Apple, Aritzia, J Crew, Lululemon, Banana Republic, Michael Kors…etc

Lole is owned by an international investment fund led by Bernard Mariette (Lole’s president and CEO), Simon Equity Partners, and André Desmarais (owner of Power Corporation of Canada and La Presse), members of the Hermès family. Today there are 22 corporate stores and 21 licensed partner locations operating in Canada, U.S, France, Switzerland, Turkey and Spain.

For additional information regarding Lole, please visit their website at www.lolewomen.com.

Montreal Premium Outlets Draws Big Crowds

November 07, 2014

Montreal Premium Outlets opened last week, and from all reports, business has been very strong. An estimated 100,000 people visited the property in the first four days following opening.
 The shopping centre is located in Mirabel (just off highway 15), Quebec, a mere 40 kilometres north of downtown Montreal. The open air mall is approximately 375,000 square feet containing 84 new stores, with several first to market retailers including Polo Ralph Lauren, Desigual, Max Mara, Hugo Boss, Adidas, and Famous Footwear. Other notable fashion brands opening stores in the project are Michael Kors, Coach, Banana Republic, Diesel, Lacoste…etc. There is also a 26,000 square foot Hudson Bay Outlet. 

Montreal Premium Outlets was developed and is owned by Indianapolis based, Simon Property Group, in partnership with Smart Centres and Calloway REIT. Simon, a 50% owner, has already confirmed that their project cost for Montreal Premium was $74.2 million. In 2013, Simon opened Canada’s first outlet centre, Toronto Premium Outlets, in Halton Hills. The centre has been a runaway success and plans are now underway to expand the property in 2016. 

Think Retail successfully negotiated five transactions at Montreal Premium Outlets, on behalf of the following retailers: Desigual, Fossil, Watch Station, Bizou and Sarah Pacini.  

If your company is looking to open outlet locations in Canada, I encourage you to contact Think Retail NOW!