Canada Continues to Attract Top US and International Retail Chains

February 11, 2011

The cat is out of the bag.

Canada has become a growth vehicle for US and International retailers, who are now entering the market in droves.

Several retailers have announced that they will open their first Canadian locations in 2011. They include J Crew, Express, Dick Sporting Goods, Zumiez, Intermix, PF Changs, Juicy Couture, 7 For All Mankind…etc.

As noted in my blog last week, the reasons for the recent invasion are plentiful.

Not to be redundant, and because we all appreciate being bottom lined. The main factor behind the newfound love affair with Canada is simple. Canadian retail divisions outperform their international and US counterparts, in both sales and profits.

I've listed four (4) articles for your review, that I trust you will find of interest.

1) Flagship Shops flock to Vancouver - Globe and Mail
2) How Yorkdale got its groove back  - The Toronto Star
3) Alberta retail sales grow more than the rest of the country - Calgary Herald
4) Quebecer's personal disposable income grew in 2010, as did retail sales - Montreal Gazette

Retail and economic growth are pervasive throughout Canada and not isolated in selected smaller pockets. These articles illustrate the strength of several Canadian markets such as Vancouver, Alberta, Toronto, and Montreal.  

I have just begun preparations for my trip to Los Angeles next week, where I will be meeting with Pinkberry's real estate director, Elizabeth Hanauer, company CEO Ron Graves and the rest of the Pinkberry team. At this meeting, we will be reviewing and assessing several high profile real estate opportunities. I will hope to announce next week, the location of Canada's 1st Pinkberry. Notwithstanding, I can now confirm that not only was Vancouver the host of the last year's winter Olympics, but it will be home to the country's 1st Pinkberry.

My company Think Retail specializes in working with US and international retailers looking to expand into Canada. We have developed a formula which is result driven and value added.We provide our clients with information, demographics, sales trends and an array of other timely and key services (such as referrals to designers, architects, lawyers, contractors...etc) . Once an action plan is approved, and sites have been identified, we will quickly bring forward numerous flagship real estate opportunities (many of which that never reach market) that frequently become high volume, high profit, cornerstone locations.

Last year we successfully developed and managed the Canadian entry program\strategy for cookware icon, Le Creuset, who opened its 1st Canadian location (on August 19) at Chinook Centre (Alberta's top performing super-regional shopping centre). To date the store has been wonderfully received by Albertan shoppers and sales are 23% above budget. Mall landlord, Cadillac Fairview are justifiably impressed. In this regard, I am pleased to announce that Le Creuset's 2nd Canadian location opens in early summer at Sherway Gardens in Toronto (another Cadillac Fairview Mall). Sales for Sherway and Chinook Centre exceed $900 psf.

We also worked closely with ladies active wear manufacturer, Lole, who opened their 1st Canadian store on St Denis st in Montreal. To date, the results to date, have been fantastic. We are now near to announcing the locations for three (3) additional Lole stores, including the company's first stores in Toronto.

We have developed a very compelling story in Canada and I think you should give immediate consideration to expanding your business into Canada. Furthermore, with recovery in the US still on a slow burn, your capex would be far better (and I mean far better) spent north of the border.

I would be very pleased to exchange ideas and information on the Canadian retail\real estate climate, and map out how Think Retail can assist you with your Canadian expansion.

Please feel free to contact me at anytime.

US Retailers Plotting Invasion of Canada

February 03, 2011

I've just returned recently from the Whistler ICSC Conference and I was astounded to see the increase in US and international retailers, attending the conference. Target, Nordstroms, J Crew, Pinkberry, PF Changs, Dick's Sporting Goods, Marshalls to name only a few.

US and International retailers continue to expand to Canada and the reasons why are plentiful:

a) Perhaps the most significant factor or influence in this retail invasion is that US and international retailers perform higher sales and profits from their Canadian retail divisions than in the US or elsewhere;
b) Canada's economy is growing and remains among the world's strongest. Not to brag, but ten years ago (or even two for that matter), who have thought that the Canadian dollar would be at par or valued higher than it's Canadian counterpart.;
c) Consumer spending continues to increase on a monthly basis. Strong banks, who continue to lend monies, low unemployment and high consumer confidence in the economy continue to pay strong dividends for the retail sector;
d) Less competition - US and International are pleasantly surprised by the lack of competition in their respective categories\market segments. The open landscape of the Canadian retail market provide these new to market retailers with greater opportunities to succeed.
e) US and international retailers have higher margins and spend more on marketing and promotions and thus possess important advantages over their Canadian competitors
f) Brand conscious Canadians embrace new foreign retailers as if they had just scored the game winning goal in the gold medal hockey game at the Olympics (sorry - could not help myself). Which US landlord or retailers could possibly understand the lines that await retailers like Anthropologie, H&M, Victoria Secret, True Religion...etc, each time they open a store in Canada.;
g) Many US and international chains have already saturated or completed larger market development in their home country and the remaining smaller market\profits openings are not enticing when compared to the high profit, large market opportunities that can be found in such cities as Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and Calgary

Further to the above, I've listed a few of the articles that I trust will be of interest to you:

1 - US Retailers Plotting Invasion of Canada - Winnipeg Free Press
2 - Target Sets Canada for First Expansion Outside U.S - Business Week
3 - Tanger, RioCan to Launch Upscale Venture - The Globe and Mail

This is compelling evidence as to why your company should look to Canada as a growth vehicle and the ideal place to open stores.

Here's where Think Retail comes into the picture.

Our real estate brokerage firm specializes in Canadian retail tenant representation. We work with retailers (our partners) securing real estate in all Canadian markets. In the last year we developed successful Canadian market entry strategies for several US and international retailers and we would like to assist you in the same fashion. We have the resources and national expertise that will enable you to quickly secure those top tier locations and to make educated decisions about the Canadian marketplace.

I look forward to talking with you soon.

A New Door Opens - Bizou expands into Ontario

November 29, 2010

We are pleased to announce that Bizou has opened at Bramalea City Centre, in Brampton, Ontario. The opening is Bizou's first in Ontario in over five years.

Bizou's premises is 751 square feet, and is situated on the shopping centre's main level. Their store is beautifully designed - attractive and warm, well merchandised, and very inviting.

Bizou joins other new tenants such as Forever XXI, Browns, BCBG, Joe Fresh, Aeropostale, Swarovski...etc, who have opened in the new mall expansion area, which was unveiled in mid-September. Morguard Investments Limited, owner of Bramalea City Centre,  invested $105+ million on the this project. A total of fifty new stores have been added on two levels. The centre is now 1.4 million square feet, with approximately 275 stores. In addition to the new stores, the property renovated and now has brand new entrances, common areas, soft-seating, lighting...etc.

Bizou will continue to expand in Ontario, with plans to open an additional 4-5 stores, in 2011. Regional and super-regional shopping centres are preferred. Size required in 650-1200 square feet. Bizou will also consider high traffic street-front locations in both Toronto and Montreal.

Bizou specializes in the sales of fashion accessories and costume jewellery. The company operates approximately 130 stores in Canada.

I'd like to thank Judie Hart of Morguard, for her help and efforts in finalizing this agreement.

American Apparel Open Flagship store in Newfoundland

November 22, 2010

We are pleased to announce that American Apparel has opened its 1st store in Newfoundland, at Avalon Mall (see photo). The store is 2800 square feet, and is situated on the mall's 1st level. The flagship location was designed by Robert Ruscio at RuscioStudio.

American Apparel operate 278 stores in 20 countries.

Avalon Mall is the top performing mall in New Foundland, with sales psf in excess of $630 psf.

I'd like to thank Craig Smith of Crombie REIT for his help in completing this transaction.

International Currency Exchange wins the ICSC Maple Leaf Award

October 28, 2010

I am pleased to announce that International Currency Exchange won the Maple Leaf Award for Best Retail Design - Kiosk, at this year's ICSC Awards, in Toronto. Congratulations to ICE and retail designer Robert Ruscio (RuscioStudio), who developed this fantastic prototype. Robert did a marvellous job with this kiosk, drawing upon a most unique inspirations for its design - Beijing National Stadium, The Bird's Nest).

More great news:

We are further pleased to announce that ICE has opened 5 locations in 2010;

- Place Rosemere, Quebec
- Bramalea City Centre, Ontario
- Place Laurier, Quebec
- Market Mall, Calgary
- Carrefour Angrignon, Quebec

The Market Mall opening is unique as ICE unveiled their new inline store prototype, which was designed by Gervais Harding and Assoc. The GHA team have developed a very futuristic, fresh, and unique new store approach (see photo). Another Maple Leaf Award may be in the cards.

Opening Soon - Square One, Ontario.

ICE operates over 350+ branches in 20+ countries. The classic Best In Class.

For 2011, we are looking to open 5-6 locations. Size required for a kiosk is 100 sq.ft.

Flame On - Le Creuset Opens 1st Canadian Store

October 21, 2010

We are pleased to announce that Le Creuset opened its 1st Canadian location on September 29th at Chinook Centre, in Calgary, Alberta. The 1800 sq.ft store is strategically situated in the heart of the centre's new $277 million expansion area, on the mall lower level. Store design is first class (see photo), highlighted by the striking flame coloured exterior, and an interior which is colourful, warm, and very well merchandised. Build-out cost for this flagship location exceeded $550 psf.

Chinook Centre is the #2 mall in the province of Alberta, with sales per square foot in excess of of $840 psf. Furthermore, with the addition of 50 new retailers, the shopping centre fully expects to increase its market share. Chinook Centre now has a total Gross Leasable Area of 1.2M and approximately 215 stores. Other new retailers in this 180,000 sq.ft expansion include: Fossil, Apple, Harry Rosen, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Burberry, Coach, A/X Armani Exchange...etc

Le Creuset was founded 85 years ago, in 1925, and is located in Fresnoy Le Grand in Northern France. The company has become an iconic brand known for world quality cookware and housewares under the Le Creuset and Screwpull brand names. Since 1987, the company has been owned by Paul Van Zuydam and is self-financed. Today, Le Creuset operates over 102 store locations in 15 countries.

Le Creuset will consider opening locations on high traffic main streets and super-regional shopping centres, in affluent Canadian markets. Desired co-tenants include: Coach, Aritzia, Lululemon, Sephora, Apple, ...etc

I'd like to thank Darryl Schmidt, Senior Director of Leasing Western Region for Cadillac Fairview, for his help in completing this transaction.