US and International Retailers Set Sights on Canada

October 22, 2013

The list of US and international retailers that opened their 1st Canadian store(s), during the last year alone, is impressive to say the least.

Tory Burch
J Crew
Ann Taylor\Loft
John Varvatos
Kate Spade
David Yurman
Salvatore Ferragamo
Free People
Ted Baker
Brandy Melville
Tesla Motors
White House Black Market
Vince Camuto
Watch Station
Haggar Clothing

Not enough?

How about Target? The Minneapolis based company (who purchased Canadian department store chain Zellers) has now entered the market and will finish their first year with 120 stores. Target has announced plans to open 200 Canadian stores.

Still not enough (note - you're tough to satisfy!)?

Nordstrom has confirmed plans to open 25 Canadian locations (10 full priced & 15 Nordstrom Rack). Their first store is scheduled to open in September 2014, at Chinook Centre in Calgary

In addition to the above, companies such as Victoria Secret, H&M, F21, Zara, Marshalls, Walmart,…etc are also expanding in Canada at record paces.

Not to be outdone, Canada's own Hudson Bay Company, recently purchased Saks Inc. It is widely expected that store openings will soon follow.

Allow to me highlight the five (5) primary reasons that make Canada so appealing (to so many).

1) Canada's banking sector is amongst the strongest in the world;

2) Canada has a buoyant housing market, and consumer spending is robust;

3) Canada has less shopping centres per square foot than the US. Canada has 15 sq.ft of retail space per capita vs 24 sq.ft in the US;

4) With fewer places to shop, sales per square foot in Canada are 25% higher than the US - $600 psf vs $455 psf;

5) US retailers also charge higher prices for goods, in Canada;

The vast majority of our international clients have experienced phenomenal success in Canada. Their Canadian sales eclipse US performance by > 25%. Commensurately, many of these great brands have significantly increased their Canadian open to buy for 2014\15 as well, their projected Canadian store counts.

BOTTOM LINE - Canada's fertile economy and ideal retail landscape have proven to be the perfect tonic for these growth-minded US and international retailers.

There is another factor underlying the decision of many retailers to expand (now) into Canada, that I'd like to quickly address.

Many of the new to market retailers have extensively developed real estate portfolios in their home countries and top-line expansion opportunities have been saturated. For these top brands, it has been years since they have opened locations in markets half the size of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa…etc. These Canadian cities are far more dense, lucrative, and attractive as compared to those remaining smaller market sites.

Think Retail has developed and successfully implemented Canadian market entry strategies and national real estate plans for globally recognized brands such as American Apparel, Pinkberry, Fossil, Le Creuset, Bare Escentuals, Johnny Rockets, Quiksilver, Lole, Crabtree & Evelyn…etc. On behalf of these best in class retailers, we secure flagship real estate locations in all major Canadian cities.

Coming to Canada? We are here to help!

Pinkberry Opens on High Street

October 08, 2013

Last week, Los Angeles based, Pinkberry opened its 5th Canadian location at High Street, in Abbotsford, British Columbia. The store is 1200 sq.ft and is strategically situated on a corner, adjacent other top brands such as H&M, David's Tea, Starbucks, Purdy's, Booster Juice,…etc.

The Grand Opening of the store was a huge party. First, DJ Philharmonic brought the beat and got the large crowd moving. Then, Pinkberry, offered free frozen yogurt with toppings to all who came out. The evening was a great success.

Pinkberry is the original brand that reinvented the frozen yogurt category with its tart, light and refreshing taste and freshness. The company opened its first location in 2005. Today, there are 275+ Pinkberry stores in 19 countries.

Pinkberry is looking to expand in British Columbia. Markets of interest include Vancouver, Victoria, and Whistler. High pedestrian streetfront locations and open air centres are preferred. Stores size ranges from 800-1200 sq.ft.

High Street is an open air, 600,000 sq.ft, 3 level, regional centre. The property is owned by Shape Properties. High Street has approximately 90 stores and is anchored by Walmart Supercentre, London Drugs, Marshalls, Cineplex VIP, and H&M.

I'd like to thank Brain Nosko of Shape Properties for all of his help, efforts, and patience, throughout our negotiations. Brian and I worked together some time ago at Morguard. He is intelligent, hard working, and pleasure to deal with. A class act. He also did a fantastic job leasing up this centre. The powers that be at Shape should promote this man.

For additional information on Pinkberry, please visit their website at and their Canadian Facebook page at

Lole Draws 4000 People to Paris Event

September 12, 2013

Quebec-based women’s apparel brand Lolë took over Paris’ Grand Palais this weekend to host a massive community yoga session, drawing 4,000 white-clad enthusiasts of all ages (the largest yoga session ever held in France).

The event, which featured Opera de Paris string musicians and “First Lady of Yoga” Colleen Saidman Yee, is the first project from agency Sid Lee Entertainment, a newly formed joint venture between Sid Lee and Cirque du Soleil.

Click on the link below to see the AMAZING video:

The Grand Palais event was the finale of Lolë’s White Yoga Tour, a series of emotional mass-audience yoga sessions in Canada, the U.S. and France. Since it launched in 2011, the tour has been a major success for the brand - this summer's session at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium drew over 5,000 people. The Toronto event held at Fort York Historic Site was attended by 2500 people.

Lole is owned by Quebec based Coalision Inc, who own several exciting brands including: Lole, and Paradox. Coalision Inc is owned by Kilmer capital (whose CEO is Larry Tanenbaum of Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment). In addition to Quebec, Coalision Inc operates offices in the US, France and Hong Kong. The company operates a total of 13 Lole stores in Canada, US, France and Switzerland.

Further, Lole has confirmed plans to open 7 locations in Canada in 2014, doubling their Canadian store count by the end of next year. The following provinces are targeted: Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario. Lole will locate in super regional malls, downtown high street locations, and outlet centres. Size required 1250-1600 sq.ft.

We are also pleased to announce that the company is now prepared to open their 1st location in British Columbia.

If you're attending next week's ICSC conference in Toronto, I would invite you to visit Lole's newest location at 88 Yorkville Avenue.

Finally, for all of the information on Lole, please visit their website at

Watch Station International Opens at Toronto Premium Outlets

September 05, 2013

In early August, Watch Station International opened at Toronto Premium Outlets in Halton Hills, Ontario (25 miles west of downtown Toronto). The premises is 1,200 sq.ft. and is strategically situated adjacent other globally recognized brands such as Hugo Boss, DKNY, Coach, True Religion, Calvin Klein, Fossil, Ted Baker…etc..
All Watch Station International stores carry a wide array of classic timepieces from the world's top designer brands such as Michael Kors, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Emporio Armani, Michele, DKNY, Skagen, Karl Lagerfeld. Prices range from $200-$2500.
Toronto Premium Outlets is the company's 5th Canadian location. A 6th store has already been confirmed and will open next year in Ottawa, at Tanger Ottawa Outlets. By the end of 2013, there will be 75 Watch Station International stores in Asia, Canada, Europe, and the US.
Watch Station International continues to expand (outlet stores only) in Canada. The following cities are targeted for additional openings: Edmonton, Montreal and Vancouver. Size required is 1000-1200 sq.ft (with minimum width of 23.5 ft).
Toronto Premium Outlets is owned by Simon Property Group (joint venture with Toronto based Calloway REIT). The project was Simon's 1st in Canada and from all reports, it has been a phenomenal success. The centre continues to draw massive crowds, one full month after opening. Toronto Premium Outlets has 85 stores and a GLA of 375,000 sq.ft. Simon has announced a 2nd Canadian Premium Outlets that will open in Montreal, on November 1,2014.
Finally, I'd like to thank Brad Cole, Vice President of Leasing Premium Outlets\Simon Property Group, for all of his help and efforts throughout our negotiations of this transaction. Brad did a herculean job with Toronto Premium. First, while many of us Canadians have visited Woodbury Commons and Premium Outlet centres in Orlando and Las Vegas, the branded outlet centre format, with a high concentration of retailers offering made for outlet (MFO) merchandise, is somewhat foreign. Brad worked tirelessly to educate us on this cookie cutter styled project, which has been so successful throughout the United States and Europe. He was always highly responsive and effective. Second, his pre-lease of this project at 94% was absolutely OUTSTANDING. We are often told by landlords that their goal is to have 85% of the project open at Grand Opening. The rationale provided is that once prospective retailers see how strong the centre is performing at and following the opening, then landlords will secure commitments for these final spaces and at higher minimum rents than those achieved to prior to opening. I can write a blog all about Opening Co-Tenancy but will save this hot topic for another day. Notwithstanding, take this to the bank. Landlords who shoot for 85% often get less. Further, at Grand Opening, our clients sales projections presume that the property is fully leased - 100%. In addition to doing a great lease-up, Brad ensured Simon delivered big time with respect to co-tenancies. They said they would bring in top retailers such as Polo, Michael Kors, Coach, Restoration Hardware, Tory Burch, J Crew, Nike, Brooks Brothers, Hugo Boss, Fossil, Ted Baker…etc. And they did.
For additional information on Watch Station International, please visit

Aroma Espresso Bar Steams Ahead to Montreal

September 03, 2013

Aroma Espresso Bar has tapped Montreal as the next step in their Canadian expansion strategy. Anat Davidzon, Operating Partner of Aroma Group Inc. confirmed recently, that the company has concluded a franchise agreement that will see several units open in Montreal over the next 3 years.
For the company's Quebec market entry, Aroma is targeting Montreal's downtown core. The company will consider high street locations and multi use towers. The size required is 1700-2250 sq.ft., plus terrace.
While Aroma is known for their gourmet coffees, their gourmet food offerings are freshly made on site, and combine global flavours and ingredients to create unique, innovative and healthy choices for discerning guests.  Aroma's breads and pastries are baked on-site in open kitchens, in full customer view. Aroma locations have a modern design with cutting edge décor that includes modern finishes, contemporary lighting, wi-fi and urban music.
Aroma was founded in Jerusalem in 1994. After opening 100+ locations in Israel, in 2006 the company opened their 1st international location in Soho, New York. The move into Canada came one year later where they quickly expanded to approximately 20 locations. Today there are  over 150 Aroma Espresso Bars operating in 6 countries.
I'd like to thank Sam Wertman, President of Retail Logic Realty Inc., for reaching out to us to assist on this exciting mandate. Sam has done great work with Aroma in the Greater Toronto market and we're pleased to collaborate with him.
For all of the Aroma news, please visit their website at

Fossil Opens 1st Canadian High Street Location

July 29, 2013

In early July, Fossil opened a flagship location in the heart of downtown Montreal. The store is located at 1253 Saint Catherine Street and is the company's first Canadian high street location. The space is 2400 square feet and is strategically situated adjacent other globally recognized retail brands such as F21, A\X Armani, Lululemon, Oakley, Urban Outfitters, Guess, Apple…etc.

In other Fossil news, the company recently confirmed several new Canadian store openings. They include the following:

Pacific Centre
Toronto Premium
Richmond Centre
Guilford Centre
Fairview Pointe Claire
Champlain Place
Tanger Ottawa Outlets

Fossil will end 2013 with twenty-five (25) Canadian locations.

The company is eager to open additional units in Canada and is prepared to expand in the following markets: Alberta, BC, Ontario, and Quebec. Size required is 1250-1500 sq.ft (full price) and 3000 sq.ft (outlets). Fossil stores open in super regional malls and outlet centres.

Further to the above, Fossil has its sights set on Toronto to add a flagship high street location in this market.

We'll have more exciting Fossil news to announce next month. Stay tuned for the exciting details.

In the interim, for all of the information regarding Fossil, please visit their website at