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Hot Fudge Wins ICSC Maple Leaf Award - Best Store Design

November 12, 2012

We're so pleased to announce that in late October, at this year's Canadian ICSC Awards, branded fashion accessories specialist, Hot Fudge won the ICSC Maple Leaf Award for Best Store Design. Click here to see the press release.

We'd like to offer our congratulations to Hot Fudge owner Joey Labrecque and his phenomenally talented store designer, Frederic Bernier.

Hot Fudge operates five stores in the province of Quebec. Further next week, the company will open two more locations; Carrefour Laval and Galeries de la Capitale.

For more information on Hot Fudge, visit www.hotfudge.ca or check out them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hotfudgecanada.

Pinkberry Shines Bright in New Cadillac Fairview Dining Terrace

November 05, 2012

We are pleased to announce that Pinkberry is now open in the new Dining Terrace at Richmond Centre in Richmond, British Columbia. The 225 sq.ft kiosk (see photo) looks fantastic and is strategically situated right in the middle of this beautiful new terrace area.  

Pinkberry joins other top food brands such as Edo Japan, Quiznos, KFC, Bourbon Street Grill, New York Fries to open in the Dining Terrace, which was modelled after the new Toronto Eaton Centre Urban Eatery.

Richmond Centre is owned by both Cadillac Fairview (CF) and Ivanhoe Cambridge. The mall is approximately 1 million square feet and is anchored by The Bay, Sears, Spot Chek. Other notable tenants include Apple, F21, Lululemon, Aritzia, and Sephora. Sales at Richmond Centre are an impressive $750 psf.

I'd like to thank Marcia Grant of Cadillac Fairview, for all of her efforts while negotiating this transaction. Marcia saw this deal through from inception to closing (including the design and build-out phases) like a true pro, and for this she deserves great credit.

The new Richmond Centre location is Pinkberry's 3rd store in British Columbia and their fourth in Canada. More units are planned. In this regard, the company has its sights set on the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia for additional expansion. Pinkberry will open in large format open air centres, super regional malls, downtown high streets, and airports. Size required is 500-1250 sq.ft. Kiosk locations will also be considered.

Further to the above, I can confirm that the company's next Canadian opening, will take place on April 1(2013), in the much talked about High Street property, in Abbottsford, BC.

Pinkberry was launched in Los Angeles in 2005. Since then, the company has flourished into one of retail's true iconic brands. They are the world leader in the frozen yogurt category and operate over 250 stores in 15+ countries. They revolutionized the industry with the introduction of frozen yogurt that is both sweet and tangy, yet natural and healthy.

For more information on Pinkberry, please visit their website at www.pinkberrycanada.com, www.pinkberry.com or visit www.facebook.com/PinkberryCanada.

Bizou Celebrates 30th Anniversary!

October 25, 2012

In a fantastic evening event that won’t soon be forgotten, Quebec City based, fashion accessories specialist, Bizou, celebrated their 30th anniversary party. At a beautiful venue overlooking the St. Lawrence River, over 300 employees, industry colleagues, friends and family were in attendance to celebrate Bizou’s long-term achievements with an enjoyable dinner and dancing reception.

Bizou’s business (and the industry) has come a very long way since the opening of their first store 30 years ago in Les Galeries Chagnon, in Levis, Quebec. Everything from product, marketing, inventory management, store design, merchandising, warehousing and distribution has been carefully monitored and continually improved. Today, Bizou has blossomed into a dynamic retail powerhouse with over 500 employees and a network of over 120 stores, spanning 6 provinces.

In an industry where retailers can rise to fame, only to then fall to irrelevance almost overnight, maintaining your standing as a successful retail chain over the long-term is truly a remarkable accomplishment.

On a personal note, Bizou has been our business partner for 15 years. We greatly value this relationship and are so pleased to offer them our heartfelt congratulations on this wonderful achievement.

Looking ahead to 2013, Bizou is focussed on continuing their expansion into the province of Ontario, with plans to open 4-8 new locations. Size required is 600-1000 sq. ft. in regional and super-regional malls as well as high pedestrian street-front locations.

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

Canada Prepares For Historic Retail Boom

October 09, 2012

I've been in the shopping centre business for 23 years (clearly, longer than I wish to remember) and have worked on both sides of the table; first as a landlord with Morguard & Olympia & York, and over the last decade and a half, as a real estate broker. Historically speaking, the Canadian retail real estate market has been remarkably consistent, highlighted by strong retail demand, extremely low vacancy, and phenomenally high retail sales. I have written previously, about the prevalence of such conditions as well as the growing attraction of Canada to US and international retailers who have, in the last 3-5 years not only entered the market, but have doubled and tripled their originally forecasted store openings. Here’s something to consider; according to the International Council of Shopping Centres, enclosed shopping centres perform 43% higher sales in Canada than they do in the US. WOW. With such great success, it is no wonder that Canada has become a growth vehicle for such globally recognized retail chains such as F21, Anthropologie, Michael Kors, H&M, Sephora, J Crew, Target (who will open 170 locations in Canada in the next 2 years), Marshalls...etc. So far so good, but that said, even a robust market is not exempt from obstacles and problems.

In Canada, the primary challenges are simple. With little or no vacancy in the top Canadian centres and high streets, landlords have been successful in charging rental rates that are a premium and sometimes cost prohibitive. Further, with retailers performing so well, Landlords are forced to wait for natural expiry dates before they can consider replacing their non-performing tenants (and in Canada, most of these tenants that landlords wish to replace are domestic ones). Given the above, Canadian landlords have been able to amass a long wait list of tenants wishing to open in these centres. It’s also important to note that many retailers who are losing money are also reluctant to give up their spaces. To these retailers, the value of their real estate is greater than the loss they are incurring from operating the store (I don't necessarily ascribe to this philosophy).

Our ability to execute successfully on behalf of our clients is predicated on the following: a) our volume of transactions is ten times that of the average expanding retailer; b) our relationships with the top landlords is extensive and nationally driven (in contrast to the typical retailer whose expansion plans are more frequently regionally based); c) our clients are best in class retailers, who perform at the top of their category, and draw huge numbers of shoppers to the shopping centre. These retailers are game changers to the sales performance of their respective categories, and landlords often say are worth their weight in gold; d) our company has formed longstanding relationships with retailers throughout Canada and it is commonplace that we secure top quality dispositions from many of these domestic (and international) retailers who are looking to consolidate their retail networks. Essentially we figured out how to overcome these hurdles that most will encounter.

Notwithstanding the above, the Canadian market is about to encounter a major shift which is welcome and will have a long lasting impact. For the first time in thirty years, there will be a massive wave of new retail development. Spearheading the boom is Canada's top fashion mall landlord, Cadillac Fairview (CF). Owned by the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund, CF is about to announce plans to completely re-develop centres such as Pacific Centre, Chinook Centre, Rideau Centre, and Sherway Gardens. The catalyst for these projects can be attributed to the Canadian arrival of Nordstrom, who will open in all of these great malls. All of the above-listed centres are market dominant and perform between $910 psf to $1525 psf. Each centre will be adding new critically needed CRU space and commensurately will offer an abundance of new opportunity. CF will also be re-developing centres such as Richmond Centre ($700 psf), Market Mall ($825 psf), Promenades Saint Bruno ($525 psf), Fairview Pointe Claire ($570 psf)...etc. At the end of the day, CF will likely invest a billion dollars to ensure these centres remain #1 in their respective markets. I have no doubt that they will succeed. In addition, Ivanhoe Cambridge, who are owned by the Caisse de Depot, and one of the world's largest property owners, also have a series of exciting new mall openings and re-developments planned.

The other principle factor driving the Canadian retail boom will be the introduction of outlet centres to Canada. While centres such as Vaughan and Cross Iron Mills are highly successful, they are not true outlet centres (such as those that are currently operating in the United States). These centres are hybrids that offer value and discount. The US model which will soon be introduced in markets such as Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver...etc, are true branded outlets. I've written about this previously and won't spend much time here; it is however, noteworthy to highlight that Canadian consumers have a pent-up demand for outlet retail. In fact, just last year, Canadians spent over $5.5 billion dollars at US outlet centres. Major developers such as Simon Properties and Tanger Properties recognize the un-tapped potential and are leading the charge for such new projects.

Pursuant to the above, here's but a short list of high profile new centres that will be built and re-developed in the next 12-36 months in Canada.

Super Regional Centre Re-Developments:

Pacific Centre
Chinook Centre
Rideau Centre
Sherway Gardens
Vaughan Mills
Guilford Centre
Bayshore Shopping Centre
Polo Park
Brentwood Town Centre

New Outlet Centres:

Toronto Premium
Montreal Premium
Tanger Ottawa Outlets
Tsawwassen Mills
Niagara Outlet Collection
Vancouver Upscale Outlets

In Calgary alone, there is scheduled to be an additional 12.5 million sq.ft of retail that will be added in the next 3 years. Further I was in Edmonton two weeks ago and marveled at all of the impressive new projects in this market. Another 3.2 million square feet will be added in the next year alone.

So what does all this mean for you.

Well, if you're retailer from the US or Europe, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to enter the Canadian market with a series of openings; further you now have the ability to cluster these locations to ensure better economies in operations, which will lead to great savings. No longer will your strategy be piecemeal and fractionalized. Second, with all of the new development, Landlords are aggressively looking to fill these new spaces. There's now tremendous pressure on the leasing executives to do deals NOW. In this regard, top performing retailers can now negotiate much larger tenant inducements. Given such conditions, from a financial perspective alone, it is the opportune time for your company to green light a Canadian market entry.

Our company specializes in developing and implementing Canadian market entry strategies for globally recognized retail brands. Our list of exclusive clients include: Fossil, American Apparel, Pinkberry, Watch Station, Le Creuset, Bare Escentuals, Johnny Rockets...etc. On behalf of these (and many other) clients, we secure flagship retail locations throughout Canada. Need more info? We're happy to discuss how we can ensure that your Canadian entry is both seamless and (more importantly) highly profitable.

Fossil Continues Aggressive Canadian Store Roll-out Program

October 02, 2012

Fossil is on fire in Canada.

Earlier this month,  the company relocated and expanded its store at Sherway Gardens. The new premises  is 1,343 sq.ft and is situated adjacent such tenants as BCBG, Guess by Marciano, Roots, Mac, Gap...etc. The larger area will enable Fossil to expand their selection of upscale watches and leather goods (which are ideally suited for Sherway's more affluent clientele). The store design has now been fully updated, and is sharp, modern and inviting - vintage Fossil.

Sherway Gardens is one of Canada's top 10 performing shopping centres; sales are an impressive $910 psf. The mall is owned by Cadillac Fairview (CF), whose other assets include Toronto Eaton Centre, Pacific Centre, Rideau Centre...etc. Recently CF announced that Nordstrom would be opening at Sherway in 2015, and it is widely expected that they will soon unveil their plans for a major redevelopment of the property.

Special thanks to CF's Bob Ryan with whom this transaction was completed. Bob is a pro with a great attitude; he is always approachable and very easy to work with.

Just two weeks following the opening at Sherway, Fossil opened at Mapleview Mall in Burlington, Ontario (see photo). The store is strategically located on a corner, at the mall's 50 yard line of the upper level. The premises is 1,500 sq.ft Neighbouring tenants include Sephora, Geox, Victoria Secret, Pandora, Banana Republic, Kiehls, and Pink.

Mapleview Mall is owned by Ivanhoe Cambridge (owners of Vaughan Mills, Metropolis at Metrotown, Oakridge Centre...etc). In 2009, Ivanhoe invested $60+ million to completely  renovate and redevelop the centre. The results have been fantastic. Over the last 2 years, tenants such as Apple, Zara, H&M, Aritzia, F21, Michael Kors...etc have all opened. Sales for the centre are now over $700 psf and continue to climb.

My thanks to Ivanhoe's Sheri McEwen for all of her help in finalizing this transaction. Sheri worked tirelessly throughout our negotiations, and was extremely passionate about bring Fossil to Mapleview. Great job Sheri. We look forward to doing many more deals together.

Fossil continues to seek out Canadian real estate opportunities for 2013\2014\2015. Markets of interest include Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. Size required is 1200-1500 sq .ft. Super regional malls and major high streets are preferrerd. The company is also looking to open outlet locations (in those aforemetioned cities). Size required is 3000 sq.ft.

In terms of performance, Fossil is resonating strongly throughout Canada. Median sales are approximately $1000 psf. WOW. That's impressive

There will be more great Fossil news to share with you soon, including a major announcement regarding Fossil's 1st Canadian high street location. Keep checking back here for more details.

For additional information on Fossil, please visit their website at www.fossil.com.

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 www.hotfudge.com.