Dream Comes True Part 2 - Hot Fudge Opens at Montreal Eaton Centre

October 01, 2012

I met Joey Labrecque approximately 10 years ago, when he began working for his father's company Bizou. At the time, Joey was young, polite and extremely hard working. I would have been hard pressed to find a more kind hearted person than Joey. His father, who I hold in very high regard, entrusted me with the responsibility of training Joey in all facets of the retail shopping centre business. Joey was a quick learner and it did not take him long before his knowledge of this side of the business was extensive.

Skip forward seven years, and Joey decided he was ready to leave the family nest and create his own business. I recall sitting with him approximately two and a half years ago when he unveiled his plans to open retail chain specializing in the sale of branded fashion accessories. He felt that there was a tremendous void in this category, and he had developed a concept that would not only fill it, but had the potential to be something truly special. His vision was to open only in Quebec's top 10 super regional centres. More specifically he indicated that his concept was created with three malls in mind: Montreal Eaton Centre, Carrefour Laval, and Promenades Saint Bruno. At this time Joey informed me that he began to assemble a small team to work on this project and invited me to participate. And that's how Hot Fudge was born (OK there's a little more to the story and one day when I write my book, I'll elaborate further).

Earlier this year, part 1 of Joey's dream was realized when Hot Fudge opened at Promenades Saint Bruno. Notwithstanding, Joey realized that parts 2 & 3 were truly the feature acts. And in this regard, I am so pleased and proud to announce that Hot Fudge is now open at Montreal Eaton Centre. The store is 1150 sq.ft and is strategically situated at the 50 yard line of the metro level. The store looks fantastic (see attached photo). The design is the brainchild of Joey's talented designer Frederic Bernier. Please consider that I am not just biased with my compliments on the design, and in this regard, I am thrilled to announce that Hot Fudge has been nominated by the International Council of Shopping Centres in the Best Store Design category. Pretty impressive for a small chain based in Sainte Marie de Beauce.

I'd like to offer my thanks to Eric Fortier for all of his efforts, help, and patience in completing this transaction. Eaton Centre is the 2nd Hot Fudge store that Eric and I have concluded (Les Rivieres was the first). As I have previously written, Eric is a star in the making, and Ivanhoe should strap a rocket on his back and promote him soon. Further on a side note, Eric and his wife are shortly expecting their 2nd child and I want to offer them an early, and very heartfelt congratulations.

As most of you know, Montreal Eaton Centre is the #2 mall in the province of Quebec in terms of sales psf; sales are an impressive $690 psf. With respect to traffic, MEC boasts over 27 million annual visitors, which ranks #1 in the province. MEC is owned by Ivanhoe Cambridge.

Hot Fudge now operates 5 store and there's more to come.

Stay tuned for more Hot Fudge updates next month, including Dreams Come The Finale - Carrefour Laval.

For additional information on Hot Fudge, please visit their website at

Johnny Rockets Primed for Canadian Expansion

September 13, 2012

We are pleased to announce that Think Retail has been retained by Johnny Rockets ('The Original Hamburger'), and will be the company's exclusive Canadian real estate broker.

Johnny Rockets was founded in Los Angeles in 1986. Their menu is classic Americana served in a 1940's style American diner complete with an open chrome kitchen, a chrome and black formica counter, red vinyl seats and countertop jukeboxes that play old tunes. Today, the company operates over 320 restaurants in 16 countries.

Facts: Each year Johnny Rockets serves 17 million hamburgers, 11.3 million soda pops, 8.3 million shakes and malts, 8 million pounds fries, 2.1 million orders of onion rings, and 815,000 gallons of ice cream.

Johnny Rockets are looking to open 10 restaurants in Canada during the next 3 years. Markets of interest include Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver. Size required is as follows: Food court: 500-800 sq.ft; In-line: 1000-2000 sq.ft. Property type: Super Regional Malls, Casino, Airports, Lifestyle and Outlet centres, tourist destinations, and downtown high streets.

For more information on Johnny Rockets, please visit their website at

Bizou Unveils Exciting New Retail Store Prototype

September 12, 2012

We are delighted to announce that fashion accessories specialist; Bizou International, has just unveiled their fantastic new store design concept in the two leading malls in the province of Quebec - Montreal Eaton Center and Carrefour Laval.

The prototype was carefully crafted by highly decorated design firm, GHA Design. The new design is expected to strengthen the Bizou brand and position them for further improvement upon the stellar sales growth that they have experienced in the past 12 months.

Looking ahead, Bizou is excited to be continuing their expansion into the Maritimes with new store locations opening this fall at Truro Mall (Truro, N.S.), Mayflower Mall (Sydney, N.S.) and Corner Brook Plaza (Corner Brook, NL).

For 2013, Bizou is looking to expand aggressively in the province of Ontario, with plans to open 4-8 new locations. Size required in 600-1000 sq.ft. in regional and super-regional malls as well as high pedestrian street-front locations. 

Bizou was founded in 1982 and operates approximately 130 locations spread across 6 provinces, from Newfoundland to Ontario.

For more about Bizou, please visit company’s website at For additional information and leasing opportunities, please contact Michael Stroll at (514) 731-7936.

Lole Makes Big Splash with Alberta Opening

September 10, 2012

In early September, ladies activewear specialist Lole opened their 1st store in Western Canada, at West Edmonton Mall (Canada's largest shopping centre). The store is 1250 sq.ft and is strategically situated on the mall's upper level, adjacent William Sonoma, Hugo Boss, Lululemon, and facing Apple and Disney.

Catering to the active woman, Lole stores specialize in the sale of technical, versatile and feminine fashion apparel for urban woman. Further, all locations offer 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.

I want to thank Triple Five's Faran Maleki for all of her help in completing this transaction. Faran is both passionate and tenacious; she (and mall owner Don Ghermezian) is always pleasure to work with.
At the moment Lole operate seven (7) stores in (5 in Canada and 2 in Europe). The company is looking to expand further in Canada and are focused on the provinces of Ontario and Alberta. Size required is 1250-1500 sq.ft. Lole will consider sites in super regional malls and downtown high streets.

About Lole - Lole is owned by Quebec based Coalision Inc, who as well own several exciting brands including: Orage, Pull-in, and Paradox. Combined sales are approximately $85 million. 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.

For additional information on Lole, please visit their website at

Pinkberry Draws Massive Crowd to West Edmonton Mall Opening

July 16, 2012

On July 12th, Pinkberry opened its 1st Alberta location, at West Edmonton Mall (Canada's largest mall). Over 2000 people came to the Grand Opening. By retail standards the event was a true spectacle.

The lines began early in the day and by opening time 5 pm, West Ed was packed with excited Edmontonians. First, samples were served. Edmonton's own Virgin Radio was on hand to spin the tunes and kept the crowd rocking. When the doors opened, Pinkberry served each customer FREE.  

The store itself looks great and is extremely well designed (see photo). The premises is 475 sq.ft and is situated on Level 1, on the corner, leading into the mall's food court.
Pinkberry is looking to expand in both Alberta and BC. Super regional malls, downtown high street and large open air centres will be considered. Size required: 500-1250 sq.ft.

Opening Soon - Richmond Centre (Richmond, BC).

Started in West Hollywood, California in 2005, Pinkberry is “the original tart frozen yogurt with a clean finish and one-of-a-kind taste that is truly cravable”. Further, the company has a developed a rabid following among celebrities such as David Beckham, Taylor Swift, Drew Brees, Justin Beiber, Larry David, The Kardashians...etc. Today, Pinkberry operate over 275 locations in 15+ countries including US, Canada, UK, Russia, Egypt, Peru…etc.

For more information on Pinkberry, please visit and

Watch Station Opens 1st Canadian Store

June 19, 2012

In late May, Richardson (Texas) based Watch Station, opened their first Canadian location at Vaughan Mills (Ontario). The premises is 1250 sq.ft and is situated right off centre court, adjacent top retailers such as Lululemon, Aritzia, Tommy Hilfiger, and Banana Republic. 

All Watch Station stores carry an extensive selection of timepieces featuring top designer brands such as DKNY, Emporio Armani, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Michele...etc. You can also choose from their rare Archive Collection which includes vintage limited edition watches. 

Watch Station is owned by Fossil Inc. At the moment, there are 19 locations operating in the US, Europe, Asia and (now) Canada. Average store sales are $2000 psf or $2M.   

Watch Station is prepared to open full price and outlet stores throughout major markets in Canada.

Size required is as follows:

1000-1500 sq.ft (full price)
3000 sq.ft (outlet)

Property-type: Super-regional malls, Downtown high street, outlet centres, and lifestyle centres.

We'll soon be announcing the location of Canada's 2nd Watch Station's outlet location. All I can say for now is get ready Western Canada. Stay tuned for further details.

I would like to thank Sean Walters of Ivanhoe Cambridge for all of his help during the negotiations of this agreement. Sean is highly effective and a pleasure to work with.

About Vaughan Mills - The centre is owned by Ivanhoe Cambridge and is the top performing outlet centre in Canada. Sales are approximately $600 psf. Annual traffic is 13M. The mall has a GLA of 1M sq.ft, with approximately 175 stores.Notable tenants include Coach Outlet, Holt Renfrew Last Call, Lacoste, Lululemon, Aritzia, H&M, F21, Michael Kors, A/X Armani Exchange…etc.