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.

Hot Fudge Brings the Cool Vibe to Promenades Saint Bruno

June 15, 2012

I am pleased to announce that Quebec based branded accessories specialist Hot Fudge is now open at Promenades Saint Bruno (in Saint Bruno,Quebec). The store is 1350 sq.ft  (see photos) and is located on the mall's upper level adjacent Le Chateau, Geox, Rudsak, Parasuco, H&M, and Yves Rocher. The design prototype is very cool and colourful and strongly resonates with Hot Fudge's youthful clientele. 

The St.Bruno opening is the first of a series of major summer openings for Hot Fudge. 

In July, Hot Fudge soars into Quebec's two top performing shopping centres: Carrefour Laval and Montreal Eaton Centre. These stores are going to be awesome.

Then in late August, Hot Fudge will open at Galeries de la Capitale.

Hot Fudge will finish the year with 7 stores operating.

Perhaps I am telling more than I should but there's even more excitement to share. 
Hot Fudge has reached agreement to open in early 2013, in another top Quebec super-regional centre. Stay tuned for additional details.

Finally, I recall sitting (in the spring of 2010) with Hot Fudge owner Joey Labrecque. This was our first meeting following his departure from his family's retail business. Like yesterday, I recall the excitement on Joey's face as he described his first vision for Hot Fudge. Joey told me that its his dream to open Hot Fudge in Promenades St Bruno, Carrefour Laval, and Montreal Eaton Centre. Well Joey, I could not be more proud of you and your team. Congratulations.  I am pleased to have played a small part in making your dreams a reality.

For more information on Hot Fudge, visit their Facebook page at

Pinkberry Set For Alberta Launch

June 14, 2012

I am pleased to confirm that Pinkberry is now under construction (see photo) at West Edmonton Mall. The store is scheduled to open in early July and will be the Pinkberry's 1st store  in the province of Alberta. The premises will be 575 sq.ft (a corner location) and is strategically situated on level 1, right at the entrance to the main food court.   

Following the West Ed opening, Pinkberry will open its next location, in early November at Richmond Centre in British Columbia.  

Pinkberry is looking to expand in both Alberta and British Columbia. Size required is as follows:

Inline store: 350-1250 sq.ft 
Kiosk: 200 sq.ft

Pinkberry is the world leader in the frozen yogurt category. Their first store opened in 2005 in West Los Angeles. Today the company operates over 250 store locations in 15+ countries (UK, China, Russia, Egypt...etc). Average store sales exceed $1,000,000. 

For additional information, on Pinkberry, please visit their website at

US Retailers Hit Homeruns in Canada

June 13, 2012

I recently read a fascinating piece (on about the Canadian retail climate. This article provided insightful data as to why US retailers enjoy greater productivity in Canada than in the US. The feature also highlighted key socio-economic factors which are important considerations in assessing why the US retailers are more successful north of the border. To paraphrase the article, the key determinants are as follows:

1. Canada's banking sector is amongst the soundest in the world

2. Canada has a buoyant housing market and consumer spending robust

3. Canadian Shopping malls are 43% more productive than their US counterparts;

4. Top malls in Canada generate $1000-$1300 per sf compared to premium US malls which report sales of $650-$850 psf

5. According to the ICSC, Canadian shopping malls on average perform $589 per sf, compared to $412 per sf in the United States 

6. The higher productivity is result of Canada having fewer malls per capita than the US (15 square feet of space vs 24 feet)

7. US retailers charge higher prices for goods and commensurately enjoy higher profit margins

Our clients have experienced tremendous success in Canada. The majority boast 20-25% sales increase in Canadian locations. Commensurately, these retailers have significantly increased (in many cases doubled) their forecasted store openings for Canada.

It's the classic if you build it he will come theory. And to Canada, the brands keep coming. 

J Crew, Microsoft, Vans, Watch Station, Ann Taylor, Express, Chicos, Under Armour, Ultra, Kohls, Marshalls...etc. These names represent a partial listing, of those US retailers, who have (either) recently opened in Canada or have announced their market entry. 
Who's next? That's simple. 

Target. You may have heard that they acquired 185 leases from (Canadian department store chain) Zellers and will open these locations in 2013. In addition they will invest $10M to re-furbish each location. Not too shabby. 

Are there other major retail brands looking to enter Canada? The answer is a definitive yes. 
Cadillac Fairview (CF), Canada's leading super regional mall landlord, just acquired leases from Sears Canada in three of their top performing malls: Pacific Centre (Vancouver), Rideau Centre (Ottawa), and Chinook Centre (Calgary). CF has exciting plans to re-develop these properties, and it is widely expected that Nordstrom will be the anchor in these sites.  

What else do I need to know? 

For retailers seeking outlet growth, with no less than 7 new outlet centres announced to open in 2013\2014, Canada is quickly becoming the hot-bed for outlet retail. In total, approximately 2.9 million square feet of outlet retail will be built during this period. Simon is set to launch Premium Outlets in Toronto and Montreal; Tanger will open a new centre in Ottawa, and expanding existing malls in Cookstown, Ontario and Bromont, Quebec; Ivanhoe will open the Niagara Outlet Collection in Niagara, Tewassan Mills in Tewassan, British Columbia.They will also expand their very successful Vaughan Mills centre. Finally (but certainly not least), in 2014, UK based McArthur Glen, will unveil their upscale Vancouver Designer Outlet. 

In addition to the above, there are several top tier super regional malls that have announced major re-development programs. These would include: Pacific Centre (British Columbia), Chinook Centre (Alberta), Polo Park (Manitoba), Rideau Centre (Ontario), Bayshore Shopping Centre (Ontario),Guilford Centre (British Columbia), Park Royal (British Columbia), Pacific Centre (British Columbia), CHinook Centre (Alberta), Polo Park (Manitoba), Rideau Centre (Ontario), Bayshore Shopping Centre (Ontario), Promenades Saint Bruno (Quebec). 

Given the plethora of tremendous first class projects soon opening, now is the time for those US and international retailers to escalate and finalize their discussions regarding Canada. It's time to GREEN LIGHT CANADA! 

From a financial perspective alone, landlords now have capital budgets for tenant inducements and greater flexibility to invest same in high performing top covenant brands. This is a unique time - Canada is now hungry for US and internationally branded retailers.

I am attaching a couple of articles that I believe are topical.

1. Canada's Retail Market Ripe for American Invasion - The

2. Outlet Retailing Canada-Style - Value Retail News

Think Retail has successfully developed and implemented Canadian market entry programs for companies such as Fossil, American Apparel, Pinkberry, Bare Escentuals, Le Creuset, Watch Station, JNBY...etc. We secure flagship locations in all major Canadian cities on behalf of a wide variety of best in class globally recognized brands and top domestic regional chains. We are value added and leave no stone un-turned to ensure that our client's real estate objectives are quickly achieved.   

Yellow Retains Think Retail

May 08, 2012

We are thrilled to announce that Think Retail has been retained by Montreal based, footwear and accessories powerhouse, Yellow Group Inc., as their exclusive Canadian real estate broker, responsible for store growth strategy, site selection and lease negotiation.

Founded in 1916, Yellow Group Inc. has grown to over 100 store locations in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick. The stores operate under the Yellow, Cité, and Fournier banners.

Yellow is prepared for further growth and have plans to open as many as 10 new stores this year. They will consider locations throughout provinces of Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick and have a particular and immediate interest in the Hull and Ottawa regions. The size requirement for Yellow is 3000-7000 square feet in strip centre, power centre, enclosed mall, or pad site formats.  Both Cité and Fournier will consider enclosed mall locations in the 1200-2500 square foot range.

For more information on Yellow Shoes, please visit their website at

For additional information and leasing opportunities, please contact Michael Stroll at (514) 731-7936.

Think Retail Testimonials: Hear What Our Clients Have to Say

May 05, 2012

I love what I do. But finding the perfect location for someone’s company can be hard work. It requires that we work side by side with our clients, to find the best place for their business. By understanding someone’s business and philosophies, it makes it easier for me to find them the perfect space, one that will produce top line sales and profits and will benefit from high visibility. And this process, though it can be long and strenuous, really brings people together. It makes my clients more than just clients, but members of the Think Retail family. And nothing makes me happier than when a member of our family is happy with what we did. Therefore, I’m pleased to bring you three new testimonials from more satisfied clients.

We helped Bob Higgins, the VP of New Store Development for Fossil, launch his brand in Canada and were met with great success. Thanks to our strategic location selection (now over twenty stores in Canada) he states, “our stores have exceeded our initial expectations and continue perform.” I’m really thrilled with the work we have done for Fossil. It’s an honor to be partners with a global brand like them and were tremendously gratified when they selected our company to develop and implement their Canadian market entry.

Joey Labrecque is the owner and founder of fashion accessorie boutique Hot Fudge, and he’s a great guy. I first met him some twelve years ago while working for his father’s retail chain Bizou and was thrilled when he came to me about Hot Fudge. When he first approached me Hot Fudge had no retail stores and there was no company track record in what was already a highly competitive field; furthermore, landlords aren’t known for being big risk takers. He wanted to open eight stores in all of Quebec’s top super regional malls (also the most highly coveted) in four years. Very ambitious plans for a young start-up company.

Notwithstanding, I’m pleased to say that with our help he’ll be doing it in two. Our expertise, advice and passion have helped Hot Fudge establish key strategic locations in a very short time, and they remain very pleased and grateful. Joey stated that “what was once a dream has now become our daily reality.” I consider it a privilege to work with small businesses and I am honoured to continue working with Joey and everyone at Hot Fudge.

Now for the sweetest one in the bunch: Pinkberry. They have amazing frozen yogurt, with endless options for toppings. A couple years ago, the nearest Pinkberry location was in the States (so far!) but that gave me the chance to meet and work with Ken Thicke, the area franchisor for Pinkberry. Much like Bob Higgins at Fossil, he was bringing a US company to Canada for the first time. This was an especially tough job though, taking me to Vancouver and Los Angeles for a franchisor conference (not that I’m complaining). I worked very closely with Ken to find the best locations in the market, as well as to ensure that he received the most beneficial financial opportunities possible. Thanks to tireless work on all sides, Pinkberry has two BC locations, with two more scheduled to open (four out of their five top targets). They will also be making their Alberta debut this summer, at West Edmonton Mall, the country’s largest shopping centre and their top target in Alberta. My favourite part was probably the launch party, where Pinkberry served free fro-yo to all the guests (over 4,500!) and VIPs included Vancouver’s own Cory Monteith, from the monster TV show Glee. It was a great experience and I’m so happy to have been a part of it.

To see everything that these happy customers had to say, take a look at the Testimonials page. You won’t be disappointed.