Blog

Le Creuset serves up plans for three new stores

July 29, 2015

The iconic Le Creuset brand is bringing its signature pop of colourful sophistication to more Canadian tables and retail centres, with the opening of a fresh selection of new stores. 
Two weeks ago, Le Creuset opened a 1,050 sq. ft. store opened at Bayview Village in Toronto; and just last week, the company opened an 800 sq. ft. at Place Ste. Foy in Quebec City.
In addition, the company is to make its debut in British Columbia with a 2,200 sq. ft. store on South Granville Street, which scheduled to open December 1st. This is particularly exciting because it marks Le Creuset’s first high street location in Canada.
This will bring to six the number of Le Creuset stores in Canada by the end of 2015. 
Le Creuset continues to expand and several exciting announcements are in the works. In the meantime, areas of particular interest include, downtown Montreal and downtown Vancouver—ideal spaces are 750 to 1,250 sq. ft. on major street fronts. The company is also considering the Halifax market.
The brand has proven very popular among Canadian consumers, who appreciate the combination of quality, functionality and aesthetics. In Canada, Le Creuset is the No. 1 bridal registry brand and it’s consistently the No. 1 or No. 2 cookware supplier to all the company’s trading partners.
Since its launch in 1925 in Fresnoy Le Grand in Northern France, Le Creuset has built a strong reputation for its highest quality Enameled Cast Iron cookware. The company celebrates tradition, manufacturing its cast iron in the original foundry and ensuring unparalleled quality control, with each piece passing through the hands of 15 skilled artisans to ensure perfection.
Products are distributed in more than 30 countries, via its partnerships with specialty retailers and high-end department stores, however Le Creuset is also a retail success story, with more than 250 of its own brand name stores operating in 25 countries—it’s own stores carry an exclusive selection of its diverse products, some of which can’t be found anywhere else. 
As a company, Le Creuset is fully self- financed and delivers consistently strong financial results, bolstered strategic efforts to branch into new markets and categories. It also owns Hallen International Inc., a maker of popular wine accessories under the Screwpull trademark. Le Creuset also offers an evolving collections of exciting kitchen tools and gadgets, dinnerware, professional stainless steel cookware, textiles and related accessories. 
This is a premium brand with a wonderful vibe that appeals to a wide audience. The Times of London includes Le Creuset on its respected list of the “Top 100 Worldwide Brands.” As well, it’s popular among celebrity chefs and has the honour of being one of Oprah’s ‘Favourite Things’. In addition, Le Creuset is the most searched housewares brand in North America, according to AOL, Google and Yahoo.
Here in Canada, Think Retail works with Le Creuset on expanding its presence in top-tier locations across the country. Its stores are destination spaces, designed to tell a brand and product story that takes retail to a higher level. The ambiance truly reflects the brand’s sophisticated, yet playful, essence and each location is customized based on the store specifics. The retailer further drives excitement and traffic with key in-store events combined with regular cooking demos. As a result, Le Creuset continues to generate considerable recognition and cache with affluent households in Canada.
For more information about this best-in-class brand, please visit www.Lecreuset.ca or contact the Think Retail Team. 

Change of Scandinavia to change Canadian retail landscape

July 17, 2015

We are delighted to announce that Think Retail is working with leading lingerie retail brand Change of Scandinavia as its exclusive broker across Canada. 
This marquee international brand has major plans to expand its presence across the country and we look forward to making it happen. 
Change is 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 concept quickly spread across Europe and into Asia and North America, with openings in markets around the globe—earlier this year Change celebrated its 200th store.
Change stores can be found in 14 countries, including Canada, where it debuted in 2006. Today it has 14 stores here: five in British Columbia, one in Saskatchewan, five in Ontario and three in Quebec. 
This is a very exciting retailer with the vision and momentum to become a definitive Canadian presence. There are major rollout plans in the works for 2016, however the immediate focus is to open stores in downtown Toronto and Montreal. 
Change is strong brand with a well-defined visual identity. The boutiques are beautifully designed with an intimate upscale feel. 
It’s an established concept that’s proven a marquee tenant the world over. Stores are a mix of corporate (more than 130) and franchises (80). 
In Canada, most locations are about 950 sq. ft. and generate sales of close to $550 psf in major shopping centres—Park Royal, Metropolis at Metrotown, Shops at Don Mills, Oakville Place and The Promenade Shopping Centre to name a few—as well as high streets, including Toronto’s Queen West.
About 75% of revenue is derived from the sale of underwear and bras, which are designed in Denmark and manufactured at Change’s own factories in China. Women love Change because of its vast selection in more than 100 different sizes (up to K cup) in 10 different models, offering a perfect fit for all shapes and sizes. 
There are four in-house brands—Change Basic, which is never out of stock; Change Fashion, classic fashion range; Intimate Britney Spears by Change, which is quite trendy; and its luxury line, Charade Exclusive Lingerie. 
The company is also building a strong reputation for its loungewear, swimwear, nightwear, stockings and men’s underwear line.
Research confirms the Change brand inspires fierce loyalty among consumers, who are derived from a variety of age groups and shop for lingerie several times a year. To help cultivate its customer base, the retailer operates the Club Change loyalty program, which members love for its very generous bonus scheme. 
We look forward to working with Change of Scandinavia on its Canadian growth plan. For more information about this sensational brand, visit www.change.com or contact the Think Retail Team.

Four Think Retail clients shine at the opening of McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport

July 15, 2015

At Think Retail we are thrilled to have four of our partner-clients among the inaugural retailers to open at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport.

Lolë, Watch Station International, Fossil and Desigual were part of the grand opening on July 9 and there’s no doubt this outlet centre—the first to market in the Vancouver area—is going to be a huge hit among shoppers, both locals and visitors.

There’s a pent up demand for outlet shopping in the region, where the average income is higher than that surrounding any other outlet centre that’s opened in the country—consumers are ready to embrace this higher-end retail mix, which features many first-to-market retailers.

The team at McArthurGlen has done a brilliant job, curating a vibrant roster of tenants that’s fresh, appealing and ready to sell: Shoppers in Vancouver are going to be very excited.

On a personal note, it was such as pleasure working with Andrew Schulman, Senior Vice President of Leasing, North America, for McArthurGlen. We’re honoured to have had the opportunity to be a part of the opening of the British company’s first Canadian outlet centre and we look forward to working with them again.

Vancouver was a great choice for McArthurGlen’s debut—it really is the best climate in Canada for an open-air outlet centre.

And, they have done it beautifully. The build out is very aesthetically pleasing and the attention to detail is remarkable, resulting is a wonderful ambiance. Nothing has been overlooked, inside and out. From the charming exterior finishes—those upper windows are such a nice touch—to the old-world streetlights, brick pedestrian paths and landscaping, the outlet centre has earned its place as a true destination for locals and tourists.

And, of course, the shopping is amazing. Fossil, Lolë, Watch Station and Desigual will be right at home alongside some of the world’s top brands, including Armani, Banana Republic, Coach, J.Crew, Guess, Hugo Boss, Polo and more.

The 240,000 sq. ft. centre features 80 retail spaces and the next phase will add another 140,000 sq. ft., eventually the outlet centre will comprise 150 retailers. Through its network of outlet centres around the world, McArthurGlen has relationships with more than 900 brands, it will be interesting to watch the centre develop and grow.

It’s been a defining couple of years for the outlet market in Canada, which is really gaining steam. Since 2013, five designer outlet centres have opened. At Think Retail, we have been an important contributor to the success of these centres and their robust merchandising mix. Our clients are key tenants, occupying strategic space across the board.

Several more centres are in works and we will continue to play a key role in the outlet industry’s evolution. We see it as an exciting and welcome opportunity for our partner-clients and we look forward to helping them flourish.

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.