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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.

Surplus Clothing to open premium brand boutique

October 15, 2015

The innovative entrepreneurs behind the off-price concept Surplus Clothing are at it again, this time launching a full-price premium brand boutique, In by Surplus.
Surplus Clothing was born in Montreal in 1999 when the first bricks and mortar boutique opened on trendy St.-Laurent Street in the city’s Mile End neighbourhood.  
The focus was, and continues to be, on affordable luxury brands—including Diesel, Superdry, OSC, G STAR and more—at discount prices. Today there are four off-price outlets—two in Quebec (downtown Montreal and Tanger Outlets Saint-Sauveur) and two in Ontario (Outlet Collection at Niagara and Heartland Town Centre in Mississauga), as well as a strong online store.
At Think Retail, we are excited to be a part of the founders’ new vision, an in-mall shop featuring a curated collection of favourite brands.
The inaugural store is to open at CF Markville Mall in Markham, Ont. in March 2016.
We wanted to do a full-price store in mall and this is a testing ground,” says Jones Liang, one of the retailer’s partners, adding if In by Surplus is well received, he’d like to expand the concept in more enclosed malls.
The new store will be a multi-brand concept, focusing largely on denim and footwear, with at least 10 different high-profile footwear fashion brands.
The 3,000 sq. ft. space will reflect the Surplus vision, showcasing the latest styles through hip and appealing design that is sure to draw in fashion-conscious consumers looking for quality top brands.
For more about the Surplus Clothing and its new In by Surplus concept, visit www.surplusclothing.ca or contact the Think Retail Team.

Must Read: How Shinola Went From Shoe Polish to the Coolest Brand in America

September 16, 2015

At Think Retail we are always interested in talking about and getting to know cool and exciting brands. These days, Shinola is on our radar.  Founded in 2011, Shinola designs and manufactures a range of luxury products, including watches, belts, bicycles, pocket knives, clothing and leather accessories.

The Shinola name, which comes from an old shoe polish label, has become a cultural phenomenon, with mentions on late-night television and plenty of unsolicited celebrity endorsements.

Shinola is already diversifying into new categories and securing its reputation as a full lifestyle brand.Products are sold internationally online and via a select group of retail partners, however it also has nine stand-alone stores in the U.S. The company does an amazing job of making its stores true destination spaces, where people gather for community events, such as whiskey tasting.

What’s most exciting (at least in our business) is Shinola has big plans for expansion. In the U.S., the aim is to have 16 stores by year’s end, with plans for up to a dozen more each year thereafter: Shinola already has a shop in London and is eying other international markets.

I encourage you to check out Robert Klara’s great piece, published in AdWeek, which celebrates the rise of Shinola by delving into its backstory and discussing what’s next for this fascinating brand: “How Shinola went from shoe polish to the coolest brand in America, Nobody’s confusing shit with Shinola anymore.”

Drop me an email and let me know that you think.

Le Creuset Turns Up Heat in Ottawa and Edmonton

September 15, 2015

 It’s an exciting time for the iconic Le Creuset brand in Canada, as the company announces two new market entry deals that will see it debuting its signature colourful cookware stores in Ottawa and Edmonton.
In October, Le Creuset will open an 1,100 sq. ft. store at Southgate Centre, south Edmonton’s largest shopping centre.  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.” The centre is the perfect fit for Le Creuset’s debut in Edmonton.
Next week, Le Creuset will open its first Ottawa location—and its third in Ontario—at 517 Sussex Drive. The sophisticated brand will be right at home in its new 1,130 sq. ft. space, strategically situated in the heart of this bustling high-end shopping strip in the city’s downtown core.
In addition, Le Creuset is gearing up for its previously announced debut in British Columbia. A 2,200 sq. ft. store to open on South Granville Street in Vancouver the first week of November.
The Vancouver and Ottawa stores are particularly exciting because they mark Le Creuset’s first high street locations in Canada.
Le Creuset will have eight stores in Canada by the end of 2015—the brand is hot, hot, hot. Last month, Le Creuset opened a 1,050 sq. ft. store opened at Bayview Village in Toronto and a 800 sq. ft. relocated store at Place Ste. Foy in Quebec City.
Le Creuset continues to expand and an area of particular interest is downtown Montreal, where it would like to open a flagship high street store in the next year—ideal spaces are 750 to 1,250 sq. ft. The company is also looking to make its mark in the Halifax market, where it will consider super regional malls, as well as major street locations.
The brand—founded in Northern France in 1925—is very popular among Canadian consumers, who appreciate its signature combination of quality, functionality and colorful 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.While its products are distributed in more than 30 countries via its partnerships with specialty retailers and high-end department stores, Le Creuset also has more than 250 of its own brand name stores in 25 countries—these stores carry a bolstered selection of its diverse products that aren’t available elsewhere.
At Think Retail, we are thrilled to work with this marquee brand to expand its presence in top-tier locations across the country.
For more about this Le Creuset, please visit www.Lecreuset.ca or contact the Think Retail Team.

Lolë Puts the ‘OM’ in the Canadian Retail Market

September 14, 2015

At Think Retail, we are thrilled to work with some of the world’s marquee brands and Lolë is one such player. Founded in Montreal’s Longueuil area in 2002, Lolë has evolved into a phenomenal brand that seems to do everything right, from design to marketing to customer relations and expansion.
In July, Lolë opened a 1,350 sq. ft. store at The Core in Calgary, marking the retailer’s first in the city and fifth in the province of Alberta. In addition to the 2,476 sq. ft. marquee flagship store to open next week at 954 Rue Ste-Catherine West in Montreal, the company is now sharing plans to open two new Ontario stores in Q4, just in time for the busy holiday shopping season.
An 1,800 sq. ft. store is under construction at Vaughan Mills, a destination shopping centre bristling with top brands in the world of fashion and dining. It’s the activewear brand’s third outlet location in Canada (another opened in July at Vancouver’s McArthurGlen Designer Outlet). 
Lolë will also take its place in another destination shopping mecca—The Toronto Eaton Centre. This 1,500 sq. ft. store will open later this year in the mall’s newly renovated north section, which is in the midst of welcoming more than 25 high-profile brands. 
Simply put, Lolë is hitting it out of the park with major flagship deals—more exciting plans are in the works and we will share details soon.
Lolë is owned by Quebec-based Coalision Inc., which operates in the U.S., France and Hong Kong. Lolë has licensed partner locations operating in Canada, U.S, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy. Lolë is sold in 200 “shop-in-shops” and is available at 1,600 retail outlets worldwide. 
Lolë also has close to 50 of its own-brand stores in major cities around the world, including flagships in the prestigious Marais area in Paris and Soho neighbourhood in New York. In Canada, Lolë has 24 stand-alone locations, including two airport stores and two outlets.
As part of its annual White Tour, Lolë this summer touched down in several of these cities, including Montreal, Toronto, Paris and New York (a record 10,000 people gathered in Central Park for a grand-scale community yoga session). This White Tour is a phenomenon sight to behold, with more than 50,000 people participating so far this year: I encourage you to check out the video links, which are very inspiring. Participants are required to wear white (a symbol of peace) and each is given a yellow yoga mat (Lolë’s brand colour) to use during the session. Another is slated for LA in November.
Lolë is the embodiment of a true lifestyle brand and has really proven itself a master at engaging with its customers, both on a grand scale, as with the White Tour, and at the retail level.  
Its stores, which the company refers to as ateliers, are always a joy to visit. They offer a refreshing take on the traditional storefront, providing a place to not only shop, but also connect with the brand and other like-minded community members. Lolë cultivates its target audience by organizing free twice-weekly exercise meet-ups at local parks, as well as onsite lectures by yoga\pilates specialists and nutrition experts.  
Lolë continues to grow its footprint, with plans to open 75 stores worldwide in the next three years.
At Think Retail, we’ve partnered with Lolë as its exclusive Canadian real estate broker since 2011 and we excited to work on growing this great brand in well-positioned strategic spaces of 1,250 to 2,000 sq. ft. on downtown high streets, in super regional shopping centres and select outlets.
To learn more about Lolë’s and its expansion plans in Canada, visit www.lole.com or contact the Think Retail Team.