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Must Read: Without Losing Its Heritage, Filson Finds The Cool Crowd

February 17, 2016

It’s always fascinating to watch a traditional retail brand reinvent itself, while remaining true to is heritage. Filson is doing this beautifully. 
The 120-year-old Seattle outdoor clothing and luggage maker has gone from simply stalwart to somewhat sexy in the hands of its new owners, Dallas-based private equity firm Bedrock Manufacturing. 
The brand—the faithful go-to for hunters, ranchers and fishermen—is fine-tuning its collections and expanding its customer base to include a new generation of cultural players, drawn to the retail brand’s authenticity.
In an insightful piece in The Seattle Times, writer Hugo Kugiya explores “the company’s attempt to gently toe that fine line between honoring its history and the need to adapt to the marketplace.”
He talks about how the new tastemakers, from designers to indie-band members, are drawn to the Filson brand: “As they have embraced hog butchery, single-gear bicycles, backyard chicken coops, Mumford & Sons, and Appalachian beards, so have they embraced brands like Filson that trade on a sense of shared heritage. This is a demographic that covets Filson garments the way they might value raw, selvedge denim jeans, another early 20th-century product recently rediscovered.”
Bedrock is well aware of the appeal and fueling the fire with simple updates to its collections, including a more modern cut for its popular cruiser jacket. Dubbed the “Seattle” it sells alongside the traditional “Alaska fit” (so as not to alienate the retailer’s loyal customer base). 
Bedrock is good at this. It also owns Detroit-based Shinola, which we wrote about earlier this fall, and seems to really understand how to take a brand’s history and make it a huge asset.
Like Shinola, Filson has a great “Amercian-dream” backstory with its strong working-class roots in the Seattle area. Former train conductor Clinton Filson opened his retail outpost in 1891. He went on to patented the iconic cruiser jacket in 1914 and today the company sells everything from long underwear to a vast assortment of quality leather bags for men and women—bags can cost up to $900, but are guaranteed for life. 
In a world of fast fashion, Filson is proving itself an heirloom brand with staying power. I look forward to watching how the brand takes advantage of this moment in its long history and I encourage you to read The Seattle Times piece: “Without losing its heritage, Filson finds the cool crowd.”
Drop me an email and let me know that you think.

Lolë rolls out plans for 10 to 12 pop-up shops

January 19, 2016

At Think Retail, we’re excited to work alongside Lolë as it announces groundbreaking plans to open 10 to 12 pop-up shops.It’s a strategic move for the company, one that’s designed to elevate brand awareness and test markets where the company is interested.

In the initial phase, Lolë is interested in six to eight month terms. It’s a fast turnaround, with the company aiming to open stores across Canada this spring.

Lolë is ready to hit the ground running with a unique store prototype. With that in mind, it prefers clean shells of 900 to 1,500 sq. ft. in outlets malls; regional and super regional shopping centres; large open-air centres; and along high streets. Preference will be given to locations with strong fashion and athletic co-tenants.

Lolë is focusing on the Toronto and Vancouver areas; however, the scope is national, with the exception of the Province of Quebec.Lolë is a true lifestyle brand, which has built a loyal following for it bold and beautiful activewear clothing for women. Conceived in Montreal’s Longueuil area in 2002, it is now part of Quebec-based Coalision Inc., which boasts an impressive team with offices around the globe.
Lolë had a banner year in 2015, accomplishing all of its objectives and positioning itself for major growth. It opened high-profile locations in Canada, while also expanding on the global front and connecting with audiences via its unique White Tour, which targets healthy lifestyle enthusiasts.

We’d love to share more about this vibrant Canadian brand and its pop-up plans: Please contact the Think Retail Team.

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.