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U.S. Retailers Invade Canada: Are you next?

January 14, 2016

It’s an extraordinarily exciting time for retail in Canada! The industry is thriving and attracting retailers from around the world who want to capitalize on the opportunities to grow and prosper.  
At Think Retail, we are excited to be part of the action, having worked in recent years with a number of amazing retailers on their Canadian market entry. That list includes everyone from Fossil to Pinkberry, Shinola, Le Crueset, American Apparel, Crabtree & Evelyn, Sarah Pacini, Filson and many others. 
Retail Insider recently published an interesting list of 28 high-profile brands that made their Canadian debut in 2015. From Aesop to Alex & Ani, COS, Christian Dior, F21 Red, Gerry Weber, Longchamp, Reiss and Torrid, it was a stellar year for international retailers entering Canada. (CLICK HERE for the full list.)
We have been saying for years that Canada’s retail scene was ripe for a major evolution and it’s happening. 
In recent years, the market has gone from strength to strength, with the opening of new outlet centres, the redevelopment of high-end shopping centres and the market entry of high-profile U.S. and international retailers, including Loft, J. Crew, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Uniqlo, Moncler and Muji to name a few.
Still, consumers want more and the market remains undersaturated. The University of Alberta School of Retailing just published a study that reveals a new crop of international brands and retailers that are confirmed to be entering Canada over the next several years. 
In addition to how this will affect the market and competition, the study discusses the challenges international retailers may face when entering Canada and navigating its diverse geographical and cultural landscape. 
With that in mind, it’s more important than ever that international retailers have an expert on the ground with the right insight and contacts.
With more than 25 years experience in retail real estate, we believe that Think Retail team is that partner. 
We focus exclusively on retail real estate services for tenants, offering a hands-on, personalized approach that encompasses developing and implementing Canadian market entries from planning to touring, introductions, meeting facilitation and managing lease negotiations. We have extensive industry knowledge and relationships with landlords coast to coast, which ensure international clients enjoy a smooth transition. 
Now is the perfect time to make a move and join the growing number of international retailers finding huge success and capitalizing on growth opportunities here in Canada. 
I am always happy to make the time to discuss with interested retailers a potential Canadian market entry. I invite you to contact the Think Retail Team to set up a phone call or in-person meeting at your convenience.  

Lindt goes upscale at Bayview Village

December 10, 2015

We are always happy to work with great retailers and use our valuable industry relationships to make their expansion dreams come true, be it as a broker of record or teaming up for a one-off project.
In the case of Lindt, it was a two-store deal, with Think Retail helping the Swiss chocolatier open two new stores in 2015. 
Lindt had their sights set on two great locations, one in Ottawa and another in Toronto. We were honoured when asked to step in to help them reach an agreement and pushed all of the right buttons to help the company realize their real estate objectives.
A 1,500 sq. ft. store opened at Tanger Outlets in Ottawa in August and now Lindt is celebrating the much-anticipated opening of a 1,100 sq. ft. store in Bayview Village, just in time for the holiday season.
The new store is well positioned in this prestigious shopping centres, which caters to discerning, affluent customers in an inviting, upscale environment.  The 440,000 sq. ft. centre at Bayview and Sheppard Avenues in Toronto, is home to more than 110 one-of-a-kind and luxury retailers, including Andrews, Brooks Brothers, Chadwicks, Honey, Judith & Charles, Lole, Sarah Pacini and more. 
Lindt is a premium brand known for its exquisite Lindor truffles and its shops are rich in atmosphere, creating the ultimate chocolate destination that includes, chocolate truffle Pick & Mix featuring more than 20 flavours, a line of Excellence chocolate bars; and unique chocolate specialty items with holiday themes.
The company dates back to 1879 when Rodolphe Lindt revolutionized chocolate making with ‘Conching’—the intense mixing of heated liquid chocolate to create what we now recognize as the signature silky smooth Lindt chocolate texture. 
The company is a global favourite with its products and shops located in more than 100 countries around the globe. In Canada, Lindt operates approximately twenty-five (25) stores.
Lindt is recognized as the market leader in premium quality chocolate and we were delighted to have the opportunity to work with the brand. For more about the company, visit www.lindt.ca or contact the Think Retail Team.

Change of Scandinavia to open Montreal flagship

December 09, 2015

Just months after partnering with leading lingerie retail brand Change of Scandinavia, we are pleased to announce that the company is poised to open its 15th store in Canada. 
A deal has just been complete to open a 1,100 sq. ft. store at Place Montreal Trust in downtown Montreal. Owned by Ivanhoe Cambridge, Place Montreal Trust is a 320,000 sq. ft. fashion centre the corner of Sainte Catherine Street and McGill College Avenue.
This trendy shopping centre is an ideal fit as it features more than 60 on-point shops and services that compliment the Change of Scandinavia brand and appeal to its savvy target. Co-tenants include, Zara, Fossil, Jack Jones, Little Burgundy, Urban Behaviour, Vero Moda, and many more. 
Change of Scandinavia is a fresh and exciting international brand with major plans to become a definitive Canadian presence and Think Retail is excited to help make it happen. 
The company does it all. It’s a well-established designer, manufacturer and retailer that launched in Denmark 1995, first as a private label brand before opening its first stand-alone retail store in Copenhagen in 2001. The popular concept soon grew across Europe, and then into Asia and North America—earlier this year Change celebrated its 200th store. Stores are a mix of corporate (more than 130) and franchises (80). 
Change debuted here in 2006 and today has five stores open in British Columbia, one in Saskatchewan, five in Ontario and three in Quebec. In addition to the Montreal store slated for March, the plan is to open at least three more in 2016, with the focus on regional malls in Montreal and Toronto. 
Change boutiques—ideally 500 to 1,000 sq. ft.—convey the brand’s strong visual identity in beautifully designed spaces with an intimate upscale feel. 
In Canada, most locations are about 1150 sq. ft. and generate sales in excess of $600 psf in major shopping centres—Park Royal, Metropolis at Metrotown, Shops at Don Mills, Oakville Place and Rockland to name a few—as well as high streets, including Toronto’s Queen West and Cambie Street in Vancouver.
About 75% of revenue is derived from the sale of underwear and bras, which women love because of a vast selection in more than 100 different sizes (up to K cup) in 10 different models. In addition, the company sells loungewear, swimwear, nightwear, stockings and underwear for men.
Change of Scandinavia is one of those pinnacle brands that seems to do everything right—from product design to retail to customer service—and inspires a loyal following from a wide demographic, making it a marquee tenant. 
We look forward to working with Change of Scandinavia as it expands across Canada. For more about the brand and its growth plans, visit www.change.com or contact the Think Retail Team.

Le Creuset makes Edmonton debut

December 03, 2015

Today, the iconic Le Creuset brand adds a colourful pop of sophistication to the Edmonton retail scene, as it opens its first store in the thriving city.

The 1,100 sq. ft. location is a modern masterpiece (the company invested more than $550 per sq. ft. on construction), a perfect fit for Southgate Centre, south Edmonton’s largest shopping centre, and home to an array of strong tenants serving an extremely affluent market.  The mall, which opened in 1970 and has since undergone three major renovations and expansions, is a premier shopping destination with more than 165 stores and services that bring what owners Ivanhoe Cambridge describe as: “an unmatched level of refinement to the retail experience in the city.”

Le Creuset—founded in Northern France in 1925—will fit right in, creating great synergy with other tenants and connecting with its core demographic, finally giving Edmontonians a much-anticipated taste of its iconic wares.

Canadian consumers coast to coast love the European brand for its combination of quality, functionality and aesthetics. Le Creuset continues to be the No. 1 bridal registry brand in Canada and it’s consistently the No. 1 or No. 2 cookware supplier to all the company’s trading partners.

At Think Retail we are pleased to note that this is just one of several new market entry deals for our colourful cookware partner, which also opened its first store in Ottawa this fall—at 577 Sussex Drive. The sophisticated brand is right at home in its 1,130 sq. ft. space, which is ideally located in the heart of this bustling high-end shopping strip in the city’s downtown core.
The Ottawa opening was particularly exciting because it marked Le Creuset’s first high street location in Canada.
The second, a 2,200 sq. ft. store on South Granville Street, is slated to open in Vancouver in February (another market debut).

Today’s store opening in Edmonton caps off a remarkable year for Le Creuset. We at Think Retail are delighted to be part of the action and we congratulate Le Creuset for more than doubling its store count in Canada, to seven from three.

And, we are thrilled to work with this marquee brand to further build its presence in top-tier locations across the country—no doubt 2016 will be another exciting year.

One area of particular interest is downtown Montreal, where Le Creuset would like to open a flagship high street store in the 750 to 1,250 sq. ft. range (the sweet spots is 1,000 sq. ft.). The company would also like to open another store in the Greater Toronto Area and is considering entering the Halifax market, where it is exploring super regional malls, as well as major street locations.

For more about Le Creuset, please visit www.Lecreuset.ca or contact the Think Retail Team.

Fossil acquires wearable technology innovator Misfit

November 23, 2015

We are thrilled to share the groundbreaking news that one of our long-time clients and an industry leader, Fossil Group, is acquiring Misfit, a global innovator in wearable technology and stylish connected devices.
San Francisco-based Misfit is an exciting young company that’s science and technology-based, but also very design and brand driven. The company employs nearly 200 engineers and offers a scalable cloud and app platform, a world-class software and hardware engineering team, a native wearable technology brand and a pipeline of innovative products, making them an ideal partner for Fossil.
The acquisition will enable Fossil Group to expand its addressable market, offering consumers both its traditional signature timepieces and an innovative array of fashionable connected accessories, available to consumers through its portfolio of 16 brands and, of course, its strong retail network.
The Texas-based, watch and fashion accessories specialist has built a solid reputation on more than 30 years of great style, offering its unique collections of bags and accessories, as well as signature durable timepieces. This US$260 million acquisition represents a huge and well-timed investment in Fossil’s future.
“We have a significant opportunity to add technology and connectivity across our platform of watches and accessories,” said Kosta Kartsotis, chief executive officer of Fossil Group. “With the acquisition of Misfit, Fossil Group will be uniquely positioned to lead the convergence of style and technology and to become the fashion gateway to the high-growth wearable technology and connected device markets.”
This convergence of fashion and technology is positioned to be the next big consumer trend. This is an exciting acquisition that brings together two innovative and entrepreneurial companies that will no doubt shake up and disrupt the marketplace with great consumer products.
In a release, Fossil outlined what this means for the company:
Own a technology platform that has already solved many of the hardest problems in wearables, including battery life.

Scale Misfit’s technology across Fossil, Skagen and a targeted portion of its portfolio of 16 brands in 2016, ultimately accelerating the company’s connected accessory roadmap.

Expand its addressable market with new distribution channels, new products, new brands and new enterprise partnerships, including music, fitness, healthcare and digital entities.

Lead in the connected devices space by harnessing the power of a world-class software and hardware engineering team spearheaded by Misfit Founder, Sonny Vu.

“We fundamentally believe consumers care about both technical functionality and fashionable design. In fact, one without the other is simply not enough. With the acquisition of Misfit, Fossil Group will be positioned to win with the connected consumer,” said Greg McKelvey, chief strategy and digital officer of Fossil Group. “Our world-class design and global distribution, combined with Misfit’s technology platform, creates a significantly advantaged, multi‐brand and global wearable technology business poised to drive the convergence of fashion and technology.”
Think Retail congratulates Fossil Group and we look forward to seeing the wonderful and innovative ideas and products that come out of this acquisition.
Fossil has 34 retail locations in Canada. 
For more about this dynamic brand and its place in the Canadian market, visit www.fossilcanada.ca or contact the Think Retail team.

Bizou to open up to five Canadian stores in 2016

November 10, 2015

From a single Montreal boutique to an international network of 125 stores – Bizou is a Canadian retail success story with an ambitious expansion plan that continues into 2016. 
Founded in 1984 by veteran retailer Marcel Labrecque, Bizou has built a strong reputation for its unique, quality ladies fashion jewelry and accessories. By year end the company will have 125 stores and we at Think Retail are excited to work with Bizou as it charters new territories and countries. 
It’s been a busy fall for the company. In October, Bizou opened at two notable regional shopping centres—a 600 sq. ft. boutique at Georgian Mall in Barrie, Ont. and a 750 sq. ft. store in Ottawa’s St. Laurent Centre.
In September, Bizou opened its second store at Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport—a fresh and fun 600 sq. ft. boutique (pictured) in the new international section of the airport. 
The retailer also recently unveiled a new inline store in Les Promenades Gatineau—the 800 sq. ft. space replaces its popular kiosk in the busy shopping centre.  
The adventure continues in 2016, with Bizou making a splash on the international retail front, with plans to open its first store in Bahrain in February and another in Qatar in the spring. Deals are in place to open 17 stores in stores in this region by 2017, with more to come. 
Closer to home, Bizou plans to open three to five locations in Canada next year. It continues to deliver on its commitment to boost its retail presence in Ontario, with a major focus on the Greater Toronto Area. Ideal spaces are 500 to 850 sq. ft. in super regional shopping centres, with strong co-tenants, such as, but not limited to, H&M, Zara, Sephora, Banana Republic, Fossil and Victoria’s Secret. 
With its strong fashion appeal and unique offering, Bizou is an ideal co-tenant. It sets itself apart from other jewellery and accessories retailers because the majority of its stainless steel and sterling silver jewellery collection are the work of in-house designers, who create desirable, but affordable, pieces that put the company (and its customers) on the forefront of what’s new and hot. 
In turn, Bizou’s sales have increased for five straight years, as it moves into new markets and secures a loyal customer base drawn to this modern retail experience. 
Think Retail has worked with Bizou for more than 17 years, as it makes exciting progress with expansion plans on the domestic and international fronts (it opened its first international store in 2013 at La Toison Dor in Dijon, France and the following year made its debut in Saudi Arabia, at Panorama Mall in Riyadh). 
We look forward to continuing our partnership with this great Canadian retail brand as it navigates the next evolution of its expansion. 
For more information about Bizou, visit www.bizou.com or contact the Think Retail Team.