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The timing is right for Watch Station International’s debut in B.C.

July 14, 2015

The timing is right for Watch Station International’s debut in B.C.

Watch Station International is among an esteemed group of retailers now open and poised to make McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport an amazing West Coast outlet-shopping destination.

As an international leader in fashion and designer luxury timepieces, Watch Station is well positioned among the outlet centre’s higher-end tenant mix. The company curates a collection of watches for every occasion and features a wide variety of styles from upscale brands, including Fossil, Michael Kors, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Zodiac, Diesel, DKNY, Karl Lagerfeld, Emporio Armani, Michele, Skagen and more. Prices range from about $150 to $2,500.

Watch Station is owned by Fossil, which purchased the retail chain from Luxottica/Sunglass Hut in December 2007. Today Watch Station has stores throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and Canada.

At Think Retail, we are delighted to have worked with Watch Station since it entered the Canadian market in spring 2012, with a 1,250 sq. ft. store at the country’ first major outlet centre, Vaughan Mills, just north of Toronto, followed that summer by another at CrossIron Mills in Rocky View, AB.

Since then, it’s been exciting to watch the retailer’s expansion as new outlet malls began opening across Canada.

In August 2013, Watch Station unveiled a 1,200 sq. ft. store at Toronto Premium Outlets in Halton Hills, Ont. (just west of downtown Toronto), a joint venture between Simon Property Group and Toronto-based Calloway REIT, and in 2014 at Tanger Ottawa Outlets and Montreal Premium Outlets.

McArthur Glen marks the retailer’s sixth location in Canada. Watch Station will continue to expand here and is interested major market outlet opportunities only, with a particular emphasis on British Columbia, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Ontario.

Ideal spaces are 1,000 to 1,200 sq. ft. (with minimum width of 23.5 ft.) and suitable fashion co-tenants include, Michael Kors, Coach, Polo, J. Crew, Banana Republic, Tommy Hilfiger and Kate Spade.

Watch Station also continues to grow internationally and landlords around the globe laud the brand for its successful retail mix, which delivers sales in excess of $2,000 per square foot.

For additional information about this hot brand and its expansion at outlet centres in Canada, visit www.watchstation.com or contact the Think Retail team.

Bizou to open two Ontario stores this fall

July 07, 2015

Canadian fashion accessories specialist Bizou is making good on its goal to solidify its presence in Ontario, with plans to debut two stores in the province this fall.



The retailer is a wonderful Canadian success story, making exciting progress with expansion plans on the domestic and international fronts.



Founded in 1984 by veteran retail Marcel Labrecque, today Bizou operates more 123 stores as well as France and Saudi Arabia.



Bizou already has six stores in Ontario and recently signed deals with two notable regional shopping centres. As a result, the company is now preparing to open a 750 sq. ft. boutique in Georgian Mall in Barrie and a 550 sq. ft. in Ottawa’s St. Laurent Centre. Both are slated to open this fall, which will be busy for Bizou, as it’s also gearing up to unveil a new inline store in Les Promenades Gatineau—this is a response to the brand’s huge appeal and will replace its popular kiosk location in the busy shopping centre.  



The company continues to focus on further expansion in Ontario, with an eye on opening at least five more stores in the next 12 to 15 months. 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.



While the primary focus in Canada is on further building the brand’s profile and expanding in Ontario, Bizou is also looking at infill markets in its strongholds of Quebec, where it has 90 stores, and the Maritime Region, where it has seven stores in New Brunswick, four in Nova Scotia and one in PEI, as well as Newfoundland, where it has three locations.



Bizou, which specializes in ladies fashion jewelry and accessories, is adept at setting itself apart from other retailers: The majority of its stainless steel and sterling silver jewellery collection are the unique work of in-house designers. The savvy team travels the world for inspiration, creating pieces that ensure the company is ahead of the curve and setting, not just following, the latest trends.



As a result, Bizou’s sales have increased for five straight years. Customers are drawn to the company’s fresh, modern store design and its unique offerings, which are highly desirable, but also affordable.



The Montreal-based company has built a massive fan base and, in turn, the last few years have been busy, as it positions itself for aggressive and exciting growth.



Last year, Bizou opened in several marquee locations in Canada, including Montreal Premium Outlets, Montreal’s Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport; and Place d’Orleans.



At Think Retail, we are honoured to have worked with this impressive Canadian brand for more than 17 years. Its wonderful to be part of its growth plans here, while also watching it flourish on the international front.




In 2013, it opened its first store beyond our borders, at La Toison Dor in Dijon, France. In September 2014, Bizou made its debut in Saudi Arabia, at Panorama Mall in Riyadh.  This year, Bizou will open four more stores at destination shopping centres in the Kingdom. In addition, two will open in United Arab Emirates and another in Bahrain. Deals are already in place to open 17 stores in these markets by 2017, with more to come.



It’s an impressive evolution for a concept that started as a single boutique in Montreal more than 30 years ago. Today, Bizou is a Canadian retail success story, as it continues to expand and shine, both at home and on the international stage.



For more information about this exciting brand, visit www.bizou.com, or contact the Think Retail Team.

Lolë to open Montreal flagship

May 28, 2015

It’s an exciting time for Montreal-based activewear brand, Lolë, which is preparing to open a marquee flagship store in the epicentre of Montreal.

Located at 954 Rue Ste-Catherine West, beside other destination fashion retailers such as Simons and BCBG, the 2,700 sq. ft. store—Lolë’s largest in Canada—will capture the essence of this innovative Canadian brand. 

The turn-of-the-century building is a beautiful dramatic property, featuring 50 ft. ceilings and a large glass storefront, ideal for reflecting Lolë’s refreshing take on the traditional storefront. 

Channeling its core business philosophy of maintaining an active and balanced lifestyle, Lolë stores, referred to as ateliers, embody a social retail experience by offering consumers a place to connect and engage with not only the brand, but also one another. 

Through its ateliers, Lolë fosters relationships with its target audience by organizing free twice-weekly exercise meet-ups at local parks, as well as lectures by yoga\pilates specialists and nutrition experts. Tea and fruits are served daily.The new Montreal flagship will take things to the next level, with a dedicated yoga and fitness studio on the mezzanine, where various complimentary classes will be offered daily. This engaging space is close to the company’s head office and will be a wonderful example for the brand, which is actively expanding, both in Canada and internationally. 

As Bernard Mariette, President and CEO of Lolë, aptly puts it: “We believe this central location will further showcase Lolë to our Montreal consumers and to the international visitors that come to our city each year. Situated in the heart of the city and attracting over 29 million visitors per year, this prestigious stretch of Rue Ste-Catherine West is a prime location for our brand and will provide Lolë with high visibility, increased store traffic and prestige.” 

The brand was conceived in Montreal’s Longueuil area in 2002 and is now part of Quebec-based Coalision Inc., which operates in the U.S., France and Hong Kong. About this time last year, a group of strategic and financial investors led by Bernard Mariette, CEO & president of Coalision Inc., purchased a majority interest in Coalision from Kilmer Capital Partners. It’s an impressive strategic and financial partner group that includes, Pelican LP, Simon Equity Partners, Groupe Desmarais, members of the Hermès family and the Fonds de solidarité FTQ. The move gives the brand international reach as it works to grow its retail, web and wholesale business: Lolë has licensed partner locations operating in Canada, U.S, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy.

“With 46 Lolë stores in major cities around the world, including flagships in the prestigious Marais area in Paris, the world renowned Soho neighbourhood in New York and now on Rue Ste-Catherine in Montreal, our storefronts give us a window to the world, showcasing our business philosophy and our focus of leveraging intelligent consumption,” says Mariette. “This expansion integrates our distribution network of more than 1,600 points of sale, including 210 shop-in-shops.”In Canada, Lolë has 22 stand-alone locations, including two airport stores, and it continues to grow: In addition to the planned Montreal store, its second Canadian outlet location will open early this summer at Vancouver’s McArthurGlen Designer Outlet, while in late summer is will open a 1,250 sq. ft. store at The Core in Calgary, marking the retailer’s first store in the city and fifth in the province of Alberta. Lolë is interested in 1,250 to 2,000 sq. ft. on downtown high streets, in super regional shopping centres and select outlets. 

At Think Retail, we’ve been working as Lolë’s exclusive Canadian real estate broker since 2011 and we’re proud to watch their incredible Canadian brand establish itself across the country, and around the globe. 

Over the next five years, Lolë plans to strengthen and develop its presence in existing markets and triple global sales: The goal is to open, on average, 25 new stores per year. 

To learn more about this visionary brand and its expansion plans in Canada, visit www.lole.com.

Canada sounds good to Skullcandy

May 27, 2015

Skullcandy is ready to take a bite out of the Canadian market, as it seeks to open its dynamic retail store concept in key outlet malls across the country. 

The company—known the world over for its unique array of headphones, earbuds, wireless speakers and other consumer electronic accessories—was founded in 2003 as the original lifestyle and performance audio brand inspired by the creativity of youth culture. 

Founder Rick Alden is the creator of several successful action sports companies and a lifelong industry enthusiast. His distinct collections, which range from $19.99 to $149.99, are sold online and in retail stores in more than 80 countries.  Now the publically traded company, based out of Park City, Utah, is partnering with Massachusetts-based Brattle Retail Partners to introduce the direct-to-consumer Skullcandy Factory Store concept. Together, the partners have a combined 40-plus years of retail and franchising experience.

The outlet stores are already taking off in the U.S., where last fall they opened two—one in Las Vegas and another in San Diego—and are pursuing plans to open 20-plus locations in the next four years.

The Skullcandy Factory Store vision is to showcase one of the world’s most distinct audio brands in unique retail atmosphere where consumers can sample and interact with products in a space that reflects the integrity and passion of the Skullcandy brand.

The retail design encourages customers to peruse its listening stations to sample all products using personal mobile devices or the interactive Skullcandy app on in-store iPads. The brand is further brought to life on big screens playing custom Skullcandy videos featuring endorsements from top athletes—the company is involved in the sponsorship of everything from skateboarding to wakeboarding, motocross, snowboarding, skiing and biking. As well, Skullcandy has an NBA-inspired collection and relationships with various basketball teams (they also have serious credibility in the music world, having partnered with Jay-Z to design its popular Roc Nation Aviator headphones). In addition, stores feature an in-house video gaming section where customers are encouraged to hang out and test Skullcandy’s wireless gaming headphones.

At Think Retail, we’re thrilled to partner with Skullcandy as its exclusive real estate representative in Canada. This is an exciting dynamic company with an admirable corporate culture that delivers impressive results—net sales in 2014 hit $247.8 million, up 18% from 2013. Their new outlet retail concept has amazing potential and is sure to be a huge hit here in Canada, as it is in the U.S.

Skullcandy is prepared to open immediately in select outlets, seeking 600 to 1,000 sq. ft. (smaller is better). The initial focus is on British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. The plan is to finalize three or four stores in the next 12 to 15 months and open up to a dozen outlets in the next three to four years. 

Ideally, Skullcandy stores will fit alongside co-tenants that share a passion for the youth culture, active lifestyle, and setting trends, such as surf, skate and snowboard brands, as well as sunglass and active apparel for men. 

For more about this exciting brand and its retail vision, visit www.skullcandy.com or contact the Think Retail Team.

Fossil gears up for outlet expansion with opening at Vaughan Mills

April 16, 2015

The time is right for Fossil to expand its outlet presence, following the opening of a new 4,000 sq. ft. outlet store at Vaughan Mills. 

Located just 30 minutes north of downtown Toronto, the Vaughan Mills store is the retailer’s second-largest outlet in Canada. A true shopping destination, Vaughan Mills, which is owned and managed by Ivanhoe Cambridge, is a wonderful fit for the Fossil brand and positions it alongside the world’s leading fashion and lifestyle retailers.

The Texas-based, watch and fashion accessories specialist has built a strong reputation on more than 30 years of vintage style, offering its unique collections of bags and accessories, as well as signature durable watches in an array of fresh stylish colors. 

In addition to designing its own watches, Fossil Group has licensing agreements in place to make and sell timepieces for major brands, including Adidas, Emporio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld, Michael Kors, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Burberry and Tory Burch, which last fall launched its debut collection to much acclaim. In February, Fossil and Kate Spade Company signed a global licensing agreement for the design, development and distribution of kate spade new york watches through 2025—the collection will be launched in 2016.

In another exciting bit of news, Fossil made headlines last month when it was announced the company was partnering with Google to use its watch-making expertise to create the highly anticipated Android wearable smartwatches, which are expected to hit the market by the end of this year. 

Founded in 1984, Fossil has more than 550 stores and 4,000 wholesale locations in 15-plus countries around the globe. It went public in 1993 and today it’s a $4.3 billion company, which has reported double-digit sales growth in four of the past five years.

In Canada, 2014 was an extraordinary year for Fossil, which opened six regular stores—a flagship on Bloor Street in Toronto; Masonville Place in London, Ont.; Lime Ridge in Hamilton, Ont.; Market Mall in Calgary; Quartier Dix30 in Montreal; and Polo Park in Winnipeg—and three outlets, including Niagara Outlet Collection, Tanger Outlets Ottawa and Montreal Premium Outlets. 

Think Retail, which is Fossil’s exclusive Canadian real estate broker, negotiated all the openings and is working with the company on its next phase of growth.  

The focus at the moment is to continue expanding Fossil’s outlet division, seeking about 3,000 sq. ft. in major markets, with a particular eye on Edmonton and Winnipeg. 

With the opening of the Vaughan Mills outlet store, Fossil has 34 Canadian locations. 
For more about this dynamic brand, visit www.fossilcanada.ca or contact the Think Retail team.

Lole Set for Calgary Market Entry

April 08, 2015

Refreshing: It’s the perfect word to describe the Lolë brand and its retail story, as the Montreal-based company continues to grow at home and on the international front. 

Lolë, which specializes in the design and sale of elegant activewear for women, is preparing to open its first Calgary store at The Core. With a sophisticated merchandise mix, including the expanded Holt Renfrew and flagship Harry Rosen, the recently renovated shopping centre is the ideal venue for Lolë to make its foray into the Calgary market. 

The 1,250 sq. ft. store is slated to open in July and marks the retailer’s fifth store in the province of Alberta. It also has a store in Banff, two in Edmonton, one at Edmonton Airport, and there is interest in opening additional stores in the province, with a focus on super-regional shopping centres.

Lolë now has 22 stand-alone locations in Canada, including two airport stores, as well as 10 in the U.S. and nine in Europe, according to its website. As well, it has licensed partner locations operating in Canada, U.S, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy.

Its locations are a refreshing take on the traditional storefront. Referred to as ateliers, each organizes free twice-weekly exercise meet-ups at local parks, as well as lectures by yoga\pilates specialists and nutrition experts. Tea and fruits are served daily.

The brand was conceived in Montreal’s Longueuil area in 2002 and is now part of Quebec-based Coalision Inc., which operates in the U.S., France and Hong Kong. 

About this time last year, a group of strategic and financial investors led by Bernard Mariette, CEO & president of Coalision Inc., purchased a majority interest in Coalision from Kilmer Capital Partners. It’s a dynamic strategic and financial partner group that includes, Pelican LP, Simon Equity Partners, Groupe Desmarais, members of the Hermès family and the Fonds de solidarité FTQ.

The move gives Lolë added reach, with the support to expand its retail and web business internationally, as well as its global wholesale business (it opened a flagship in SoHo last year). 

The company also continues to grow in Canada, as it prepares to open the Calgary store, as well as its second Canadian outlet location at Vancouver’s McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in June (the other, a 2,000 sq. ft. store, opened at Toronto Premium Outlets last fall). 

Lolë is interested in 1,250 to 2,000 sq. ft. on downtown high streets, in super regional shopping centres and select outlets. Think Retail is Lolë’s exclusive Canadian real estate broker and we’ve been working with the company since 2011. 

It’s an exciting journey, especially as we watch the brand use its innovative community-building strategies to lay down roots and forge meaningful connections with consumers in major centres across Canada. The company garnered international attention and media coverage for its White Tour, where thousands of people come together in cities to practice yoga, as well as promote peace and wellness.

In a refreshing twist (compared to so many retail stories of late), last year Lolë exceeded its sales forecast and reported sales in excess of $105 million, according to media reports: The brand continues to seek growth opportunities and predicts revenue to double to about $210 million by 2017/2018.