Blog

Five Guys sizzling with plans for 16 new restaurants

June 30, 2017

As Five Guys Burgers and Fries continues to shake up the burger market with hotly-anticipated openings around the globe, we are thrilled to announced that Think Retail is partnering with NY-based Bantam Restaurants LLC to open more locations here in eastern Canada. 
Bantam Restaurants LLC has the rights to Ontario (east of Kingston), Ottawa, Quebec and the East Coast provinces. We will be their exclusive broker as they open a minimum of 16 new Five Guys restaurants in these markets in the next five years. 
This is great news for burger lovers! Five Guys is a leader in the burger wars and has cultivated a loyal fanbase for its hand-formed burgers, hotdogs and fresh-cut fries. In fact, People magazine just named Five Guys to their annual 100 Reasons to Love America list. And, in a recent Harris poll, Five Guts unseated In-N-Out as the BEST burger chaini the United States. Five Guys is sizzling and just added milk shakes to its repertoire. 
Founded in Arlington Virginia in 1986, Five Guys started as a family-owned carry out burger joint. It soon developed a cult-like following and the Murell family kept up with demand by opening four more restaurants. 
They began franchising in 2003 and in the first 18 months, Five Guys Enterprises sold options more than 300 units, creating a national stir and garnering media coverage coast to coast. Everybody wanted a Five Guys in their community and they soon became the fastest growing franchise in the U.S., according to QSR Magazine. 
Today Five Guys has more than 1,500 locations in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe and the Middle East, with another 1,500 in development. 
In Canada, Five Guys is focusing its expansion on 2,500 sq. ft. opportunities in open-air centres (with patio), high streets and super regional malls. Ideal co-tenants include, Cineplex, GoodLife Fitness, Shoppers Drug Mart, Loblaws, Best Buy, SAQ/LCBO, PetSmart, Golf Town and Chipotle to name a few. 
The fast-casual restaurant chain is a premium tenant and its restaurants feature a fresh décor accented with red and white checks. Five Guys boasts remarkable brand loyalty—even Barack Obama is a fan and was often pictured treating White House staffers—and they are proven branding geniuses, always garnering attention-grabbing headlines that drive sales. 
With their promise of 250,000 ways to enjoy a Five Guys burger, customers are always coming back for more. For more about this growing brand and their plans in Canada, visit the Five Guys website or contact the Think Retail Team.

KidZania is the next big thing for North American shopping centres

June 19, 2017

KidZania is a fascinating concept that is garnering headlines around the globe and now it’s coming to North America, with plans to open in New York, Dallas and Chicago. It’s a theme park of sorts, but instead of rides and characters, it’s a downsized version of the real world, where kids try out professions in a fun interactive environment.
As The New Yorker puts it: “From a child’s perspective, KidZania is an enclosed, enticing world—resembling the outside one but oriented to children’s capacities and interests.”
The first KidZania family entertainment centre opened in Santa Fe Shopping Mall in Mexico City in 1999 and today there are 24 locations in major cities around the world, targetting children ages 4 through 14. Another nine are under development and the company continues to seek franchisees as it moves into new markets. 
At Think Retail, we have been watching this company for a while and eager to hear about their plans to expand further afield. This spring, the company finally announced its North American debut. The inaugural U.S. locations, developed by Chicago-based real estate firm GGP Inc. are expected to open in 2018 and 2019. According to the company, they will join the rapid expansion of locations in Paris, Doha, Johannesburg, Guadalajara, Abu Dhabi, Surabaya and Toronto!
It’s a groundbreaking idea that takes role-playing and dress up to new heights. Each location is a child-sized replica of a city, complete with buildings, shops, vehicles and other features. Kids can choose from more than 60 roles—jobs vary according to country and custom—and each takes about 25 minutes to complete: They can try their hand at everything from pizza making to surgery and in doing so work to earn KidZos, a special currency, which they can spend on in-house activities or at the gift shop. There’s a lesson on finance in there, too. 
Corporate sponsors, from Coco-Cola (work in an onsite bottling plant) to Crest (who wants to be a dentist?), McDonalds (would you like fries with that?) and British Airways (for budding pilots), feature prominently—there are more than 800 sponsors in the sites around the world—and, while this is a privately owned company, their investments help fund the business model. 
The award winning global theme park is a game-changer in terms of children’s entertainment. 
It’s also a massive opportunity for shopping centres, which are increasingly offering entertainment and experiences as a means to attract consumers and fill space with dynamic and engaging tenants. 
This new world of edutainment is more than child’s play. Parents can track their children on devices, while taking advantage of the opportunity to run errands, shop and dine. 
The  North American market is ripe for this fresh ideas and no doubt kids, parents, landlords and developers would welcome what’s being dubbed as the one of the fastest growing kid’s hands-on entertainment brands in the world.
For more information, visit www.kidzania.com, or, to share your thoughts, drop us an email

Superstar Chef Antonio Park is taking his culinary vision to new heights

May 26, 2017

Antonio Park embodies what it is to be a true Canadian celebrity chef. An immigrant with a diverse background who has worked the world over, Park owns and operates a handful of destination restaurants in Montreal, each of which elevate the city’s food scene with their own unique offering. His high-profile stint as a judge on the Food Network’s cult hit Chopped Canada simply seals the deal and word is he’s now prepping for a Toronto debut.
After a recent fabulous evening and unparalleled meal at the famous Park sushi restaurant on Victoria Avenue in Montreal’s Westmount, I felt inspired to highlight Chef Antonio Park as an exciting brand builder and influencer. At Think Retail we are always interested in following marque concepts and Park’s growing collection of restaurants, markets and cafes are definitely worth watching.
A student of the world (his family moved to Canada in 1990), Chef Park learned the importance of fresh, from-scratch cooking from his mother, but also went to culinary school in Japan where he trained under masters, perfecting, then evolving, his approach to create menus that take sushi, seafood and other fare to new levels.
He’s been a chef in Tokyo, Osaka, New York and Toronto, but lucky for us, he returned to Montreal and in 2012 opened his first restaurant, the now-famous Park (named after his late father).
It’s an exquisite culinary experience unlike any other. His food stands apart, embodying who he is—a taste of his Korean heritage, Japanese training and the South American flavours of a childhood spent in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.
His reputation for quality is unparalleled. For instance, he imports his fish live from Japan to ensure ultimate freshness. And, in 2015, he became the first chef in Canada to secure a license to import and serve Japanese Kobe beef. It’s efforts such as these that help solidify Park restaurant’s status as a marquee space.
He capitalized on this by opening the adjacent Sous Chef Marche Gourmand, which sells a selection of healthy organic foods and homemade juices.
And, Chef Park brings his love of Latin cuisine to the forefront with his restaurant Lavanderia (named after his mother), which serves South American favourites (with a twist) and is conveniently located on the same block as Park restaurant, enabling him to oversee both kitchens.
In essence, Chef Park dominates Victoria Avenue, which is also home to his catering and events company, Trout Lake, and his latest endeavor, Café Bazin, a café/pastry concept that is to be presided over by Park restaurant’s executive pastry chef, Bertrand Bazin.
Of course, his collection of Montreal restaurants would not be complete without a downtown presence, which he delivers with Jatoba (a fresh take on the Japanese-South American fusion) and Kampai Garden, which reinvents the traditional beer garden with legendary cocktails and delectable bites in a beautiful leafy space at 1616 St. Catherine Street West, in the heart of the city.
Chef Park’s restaurants are destinations among the who’s who, attracting a celebrity clientele that spans Neil Patrick Harris and Katy Perry to former hometown Habs favourite P.K. Subban.
As illustrated by his flourishing mini-empire, Chef Park brings to the table much more than celebrated culinary skills—he possesses a tenacious business acumen. Each of his concepts is unique, while on brand, adding to the city’s foodscape with unbeatable food, but also great atmosphere that’s always ahead of the curve. He has an incredible eye for design and insight into the experiential component of the restaurant business. With several concepts under his belt, Chef Park boasts a proven track record and his vision is ripe for expansion.
At Think Retail, we love that Chef Park calls Montreal home and has chosen this city as the place to lay the foundation for his empire. However, we believe this culinary visionary has the potential to make his mark in cities across the country and beyond. He is already preparing to open his first restaurant in Toronto’s posh Yorkville area and no doubt this is just the beginning of an exciting period of growth for his business.  
Park Chef is a man of the world, who speaks six languages—English, French, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese and Japanese—making him the ideal super chef in a multicultural country like Canada. We can’t wait to see what he does next.
We’d love to hear what you think. Contact the Think Retail team

Filson is setting up shop in Canada’s hippest hoods

May 18, 2017

It’s fitting Filson is making its Canadian debut in two of the country’s hippest hoods. 
At Think Retail, we are thrilled to work with the 120-year-old Seattle heritage fashion brand as it celebrates its market entry with the successful opening its first store in Canada in Vancouver’s trendy Gastown district. Next up, Filson will open this summer on Queen West in Toronto, an area dubbed the world’s second coolest neighbourhood by Vogue magazine.
The 1,600 sq. ft. space at 47 Water Street in Gastown is an ideal pairing for a brand that is at once steeped in tradition, while experiencing a renaissance. As the city’s oldest neighbourhood, Gastown was once Vancouver's first downtown core and home to its first saloon. After a long lull, the neighbourhood has reemerged, reinventing itself as a hip destination with an exciting lineup of unique and international retailers, restaurants and businesses. 
Filson, which was founded in 1897, has undergone a similar transformation. Once the go-to retailer for a loyal but limited consumer base of hunters, ranchers, fishermen and outdoorsmen, the brand is building on its reputation for goods from the best materials bring a new generation into its fold. 
Dallas-based private equity firm Bedrock Manufacturing (which also owns marquee brands Fossil and Shinola) purchased Filson in 2012 and they have done an amazing job fine-tuning the iconic collections and introducing new lines to appeal to an array of cultural players, drawn to the retail brand’s authenticity. From outdoor gear to clothing, luggage, leather goods and accessories for men and women, Filson is a retail force with staying power. 
Like Gastown, Filson has proven itself a heritage destination that encompasses style and substance. 
Next up, Filson will open its second Canadian store at 694 Queen Street West. Slated to open in July, the 2,300 sq. ft. store is well positioned near Trinity Bellwoods Park, one downtown’s largest public greenspaces and a focal point for fashionable city-dwellers.  
Filson will be right at home among top retailers and restaurants in this fabulous neighbourhood, which embodies all that is hip and cool in the bustling city.
We are delighted to work with Filson as it makes its mark in Canada. We have long-admired the brand for its adherence to quality craftsmanship and, more recently, its successful repositioning. For more about Filson and its retail expansion, visit Filson or contact the Think Retail Team. 

Change Lingerie amps up growth with three new stores and counting

May 17, 2017

Change Lingerie is redefining Canada’s lingerie landscape with deals in place for three exciting new stores and more in the works.
At Think Retail, we are thrilled to work with this prestigious international retailer as it announces locations at CF Carrefour Laval, Oshawa Centre and CF Richmond Centre, while confirming plans open up to two more this year, as well as eight to 10 additional stores in 2018.
It’s an extraordinary time for Change Lingerie, which has ambitious plans for a major rollout that will see the lingerie retail brand ultimately operate 25 to 30 stores across Canada. 
Change is a game-changing retailers that launched in Denmark 1995, first as a private label brand before opening its first stand-alone retail store in Copenhagen in 2001. 
Women quickly fell in love with the concept because of its vast selection of more than 110 different sizes from A-M cup in a variety of styles. Unlike other lingerie stores, this retailer attracts a wide consumer base, offering a perfect fit for all shapes and sizes. Their mission is simple: “To provide the perfect bra to as many women around the world as possible.”
The popular lingerie retailer now has more than 240 franchise and corporate stores in 15 countries across three continents (in Europe, Asia and North America), as well as an international online store.
Change debuted in Canada in 2006 and now has 15 locations—five stores in British Columbia, one in Saskatchewan, five in Ontario and four in Quebec. 
Next up, we are delighted to announce that Change of Scandinavia will open this summer (July 1) at the prestigious CF Carrefour Laval. The 550 sq. ft. store is now under construction and takes over part of the space formerly occupied by Bentleys (the original space was demised to accommodate Change and Spanish accessories retailer Uno de 50—ideal co-tenants!). 
In addition, Change will open two stores this fall—at Oshawa Centre in Oshawa, Ont. and Vancouver’s CF Richmond Centre.
In September, Oshawa Centre celebrated the Grand Opening of its highly anticipated $230 million expansion/redevelopment and welcomed 60 new brands. Owned by Ivanhoe Cambridge, Oshawa Centre consistently remains among Canada’s top sales performers and attracts more than 9 million shoppers annually. The 680 sq. ft. Change store is the ideal addition to an already impressive retail mix of 230 stores.
On the West Coast, Change will open a 600 sq. ft. store at CF Richmond Centre. With more than 200 stores and services, Richmond Centre is one of the Lower Mainland's best shopping experiences, with a strong lineup of top-tier tenants, among which Change will be right at home. 
The brand’s fresh boutiques have proven a welcome addition to marquee shopping centres. Change stores are modern and beautifully designed, with a black and white palate, creating destination spaces that attract a wide demographic of women who shop for lingerie several times a year and participate in the popular Club Change loyalty program.  About 75% of revenue is derived from the sale of underwear and bras, however the company also offers a selection of loungewear, swimwear, nightwear, stockings and a men’s underwear collection. 
Since partnering with Change in summer 2015, it’s been such a wonder to watch this strong international brand make its mark across Canada. Last year, Change opened a 600 sq. ft. store on the main level at Park Royal South, one of Metro Vancouver’s most prominent and innovative retail destinations, and a 1,200 sq. ft. flagship in downtown Montreal at the trendy Place Montreal Trust.
With three stores confirmed for 2017, the company will also consider opening two more this year. The focus is on securing spaces of 500 to 1,000 sq. ft. in super regional malls in British Columbia (Lower Mainland), Ontario (Greater Toronto Area) and Quebec (Montreal and Quebec City areas). 
For more about Change and its exciting vision, visit its website or contact the Think Retail Team.

International Currency Exchange to open two new stores this summer

April 03, 2017

International Currency Exchange (ICE), one of the largest and most respected retail currency exchange brands in the world, has big plans this summer, with deals in place to open two Canadian locations in August.
Think Retail is delighted to have brokered a deal for ICE to open one of its signature kiosks—80 sq. ft.—at Bayshore Shopping Centre in Nepean. Bayshore is a major centre in the Ottawa area, with more than 190 top-tier stores and restaurants.
The company also has finalized an agreement to open at Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga, Ont. Owners Oxford Properties have invested heavily in the mall in recent years, renovating and expanding to create a truly world-class shopping centre With its award-winning retail design, ICE will be right at home when its 550 sq. ft. store opens in August.We have worked with ICE since 2008 and are excited to watch the brand go from strength to strength, both in Canada and the international front.
Founded in the UK in 1973, ICE now has more than 300 locations in 20 countries and can be found in more than 65 airports around the globe: They manage a transaction every 6 seconds and serve more than 7 million customers a year.
Last April, Chinese conglomerate HNA Group acquired ICE as part of a strategic effort to expand outside of Asia. Founded in 1993, privately-owned HNA operates several core divisions and ICE was the ideal fit for HNA Tourism, which specializes in air travel, hospitality management, tourism, finance, investment and e-commerce.The move helped further strengthen the ICE brand and the company continues to expand its footprint, both around the globe and here in Canada.
This is a brand that speaks to our diverse population and passion for travel. In addition to offering an extensive range of major and exotic currencies, services include, currency wires, money drafts, 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. ICE is also celebrated for its popular Click & Collect service, whereby individuals or their travel agents can place currency orders by phone or online, to be picked up at a convenient retail location.
Last fall, ICE won an RFP to open 15 new locations at Toronto Pearson International Airport. It now operates 76 branches in Canada, in shopping centres, retail hubs and most major airports.Think Retail  is proud to work with this international powerhouse as it grows coast to coast. For more, visit www.ice-canada.ca, www.hnagroup.com or contact the Think Retail Team.