By Retail Insider
Upscale Swiss Chocolate Brand Läderach Kicks Off Canadian Expansion with First Storefront: Swiss chocolate brand Läderach has opened its first standalone flagship in North America at the CF Toronto Eaton Centre in Toronto. The 1,590 square-foot store is located on ‘Level 2’ of North America’s busiest shopping centre. Mary Mowbray of Colliers represented Läderach in a lease deal with landlord Cadillac Fairview, and is helping spearhead Läderach’s Canadian store expansion that will continue into 2020 and beyond.
Läderach only sells its products through its own direct-to-consumer stores — the company avoids wholesaling as it aims to control the entire consumer experience. That includes attractive stores with upscale interiors that are staffed by chocolate experts. Läderach says that it only uses the best ingredients and has strong relationships with its suppliers — that includes milk from Swiss cows, almonds from California, Piedmont hazelnuts from Italy, and honey from Swiss bees. More than 100 varieties of chocolates include 50+ different praline and truffle offerings, dozens of confectionery specialties, airy ‘Mini Mousses’, over 20 varieties of FrischSchoggi™ (fresh chocolate), and a large selection of seasonal creations. Prices are higher than competitors such as Purdy’s, with some boxes of chocolates costing in excess of $100 for 36 pieces.
The opening of the Toronto store was certainly unique — a parade of traditional cow herders with Swiss cow bells marched through the centre to the tune of Alphorn players. A welcoming ceremony with the Läderach family was a highlight — family members flew in from Switzerland just for the occasion. A symbolic chocolate key was presented to Toronto’s First Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong.
The Läderach brand was founded in 1962 and the family’s third generation is now running the business. That includes a network of more than 80 stores and more than 1,000 employees globally. Toronto was chosen for the brand’s first North American store because of the city’s diversity that includes a sophisticated taste in chocolates. Läderach is planning to expand further into Canada with more stores, including in Toronto, with more details to be announced at a later date. The expansion will be careful so as to maintain the exclusivity of the brand, which includes award-winning flavours known to be some of the highest-quality chocolate in the world. A standalone recently opened on Lexington Avenue in New York City, kicking off the brand’s US expansion.
Ted Baker Opens Largest Store in Canada Featuring a Garden Theme in Toronto: British lifestyle brand Ted Baker has relocated its Yorkdale Shopping Centre flagship up the hall to a new 4,322 square-foot space in the mall’s 2012 expansion wing. It replaces a 3,227 square-foot location nearby that was Canada’s first Ted Baker store when it opened in October of 2012. Real estate company JLL represents Ted Baker as brokerage in Canada and Dianne Lemm, negotiated the Yorkdale lease deal on behalf of the retailer. Oxford Properties is Yorkdale’s landlord.
Ted Baker’s Yorkdale flagship’s design is said to be “inspired by both the iconic modernist buildings in London’s Barbican Centre and Toronto’s own illustrious local architecture and surroundings.” The Barbican Centre is known for its gardens conservatory, and the new Toronto Ted Baker features an expansive assortment of green foliage. That contrasts with the use of raw industrial materials which Ted Baker says one might associate with Toronto’s modern architecture. The store features collections for men and women, including Baker’s Holiday collections. Ted Baker fashions are known to be eye catching with unique styles and colours.
Nearby retailers include Apple and Microsoft, as well as new luxury brand flagships for Bottega Veneta, Valentino and Balenciaga. Holt Renfrew, which has seen substantial renovations, also recently unveiled large concessions for Gucci, Fendi, and Dior, with new mall-facing Brunello Cucinelli and Christian Louboutin boutiques under construction.
Ted Baker currently operates nine standalone stores in Canada in markets including Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, suburban Montreal, and Ottawa. Two of them are outlet stores. Ted Baker also operates shop-in-store leased concessions at Hudson’s Bay stores in downtown Vancouver and Toronto. The Ted Baker brand, which is headquartered in London UK, was founded in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1987. Originally a men’s brand, Ted Baker’s women’s line launched in 1995. The brand operates nearly 500 stores globally and has expanded extensively in the United States over the past several years, both with standalone units as well as shop-in-store concessions in many Bloomingdale’s stores. Ted Baker’s largest standalone storefront in North America is on 5th Avenue in New York City, and spans about 7,000 square feet.
Thank you Norman Katz for providing Retail Insider with photos of the new Ted Baker Yorkdale store. Interior photos can be seen in the slideshow above.
Ontario Science Centre Launching Pop-Up Market with Opportunities for Brands: The popular Ontario Science Centre in Toronto is hosting a ‘Winter Pop-Up Market’ from December 27th through to January 4, 2020. Applications are now open for the Ontario Science Centre Winter Pop-Up Market. Brands interested in taking part can apply HERE.
Thousands of visitors are expected to come into the Ontario Science Centre over the winter holidays, particularly as schools will be on a break. Toronto-based pop-up retail activator pop-up go is facilitating the activation — the company has hosted a variety of pop-up markets over the past several years. Founder/Chief Connector Linda Farha said that demand for pop-up space is greater than ever before as brands seek to engage with consumers via temporary activations.
“This announcement isn’t just great for visitors, but also for prospective pop-up brands. A pop-up at the Ontario Science Centre is a completely unique opportunity—providing guaranteed visibility for brands to knowingly position themselves in front of a very specific target audience,” said Ms. Farha. “The market will have a truly seasonal feel and doing something like this is a great way to transition into the New Year for the Centre, its visitors and the pop-up brands!”
Last year, pop-up go facilitated the one-hour long Skittles’ “Last Minute Gift Shop” on Queen Street West. The pop-up was open for several hours and saw lineups of people looking to buy Skittles-themed gifts.
Maison Birks Unveils Canada’s Largest ‘Hard Luxury’ Website: Montreal-based jeweller Maison Birks has officially unveiled what it says is the most comprehensive online luxury store in Canada. The website features an expansive assortment of luxury brands found in Birks’ Canadian stores, including some exclusive brands only found at Birks.
Jean-Christophe Bédos, President and CEO of Birks Group Inc., said in an interview that the Maisonbirks.com website now features exclusive-in-Canada brands Chaumet and Messika, as well as hard-to-find brands including Dinh Van, Marco Bicego, Roberto Coin, and Yoko London. Remarkably, Birks is also the only official ecommerce partner of French luxury brand Cartier in Canada. Watch brands on the site include Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Breitling, Frédérique Constant, Longines, Montblanc, Tag Heuer, and Wolf 1834.
More than 2,400 pieces are available on the expanded website with prices starting at $100 and at the top-end, exceeding $58,000. An additional catalogue features more than 500 items from brands such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Vhernier, and Rolex — products can be seen online and purchased via appointment in one of Birks’ 29 stores Canada-wide.
“We also plan to continue adding new jewellery and timepiece collections in 2020,” said Mr. Bédos. The website is a way to further interact with Birks’ clientele in Canada, providing opportunities to purchase as well as do research before visiting one of Birks’ stores. The online presence also provides a level of credibility for Birks, which is considered to be the leading multi-brand luxury jewellery retailer in Canada. The website also engages with consumers in parts of the country where Birks once had stores but has since shuttered them — that includes markets such as the Maritimes, Hamilton (Ontario), and Regina (Saskatchewan), for example. And while Birks operates high-selling standalone flagship stores in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, the Maison Birks website is the “top selling store in the chain” according to Mr. Bédos.
Birks has been adding new brands to its roster, including recently opened Graff and Patek Philippe boutiques in downtown Vancouver. Mr. Bédos explained that Birks is looking to add new brands — names such as Harry Winston are currently not available in Canada, and that could change as Birks seeks to be the dominant player in multi-brand jewellery and timepieces. Birks has also unveiled new concept stores including CF Fairview Mall in Toronto as well as at First Canadian Place.
We asked Mr. Bédos about the phenomenon of brands going direct-to-consumer by opening standalone stores — luxury conglomerates Richemont and Kering have been expanding operations in Canada. He explained that the clustering of luxury brands found in Birks stores create an attraction for shoppers much like various beauty brands in a Sephora store, and in some instances some luxury jewellery brands aren’t yet ready to open standalone storefronts in the Canadian market.
Hublot Opens its First Canadian Corporate Store: LVMH-owned Swiss luxury watchmaker and accessory brand Hublot has opened a standalone storefront at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre. It’s the first corporately-owned Hublot boutique in Canada, and follows the 2017 opening of a two-level 2,800 square foot franchised Hublot boutique at 1080 Alberni Street in downtown Vancouver.
The Yorkdale Hublot is considerably smaller with about 700 square feet on one level. Hublot is next to the mall’s Van Cleef & Arpels boutique and replaces a Purdy’s chocolate store. Across from Hublot is Canada’s first TAG Heuer watch boutique which opened last month and was built by construction firm Amachris Corporation.
Remarkably, the Vancouver Hublot licensee was not aware that Hublot was opening a Toronto location — it appears that Hublot did a deal directly with Yorkdale’s landlord Oxford Properties. It’s not yet known if Hublot will open any more freestanding stores in Canada, though it’s possible. Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville area is a notable luxury node and as luxury retail continues to expand in Canada, new luxury nodes may also become a target for Hublot. That includes Vancouver’s Oakridge Centre which will include a dedicated luxury wing, as well as the massive Royalmount development in Montreal that will also include a luxury retail component that could be anchored by an upscale international department store, according to sources.
Hublot was founded in Switzerland in 1980 by Italian Carlo Crocco — a scion of the Italian Binda Group dynasty, best known for making Breil watches. Hublot is named after the French word for “porthole”, and the first watch that he created featured the first natural rubber strap in the history of watchmaking — a feat that took three years of research to create. In 1998, Hublot was acquired by French luxury conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy), and it continues to operate as a subsidiary. The company has more than 70 stores globally including several in the United States.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Opens 1st Canadian Flagship Store: Kitchen and cookware brand Zwilling J.A. Henckels has opened its first flagship store in Canada at the CF Markville shopping centre in Markham, north of Toronto. The 2,500 square foot store is in an upscale section of the mall next to a Michael Kors store and across from Coach.
The tech-heavy Zwilling flagship features “an experiential digital wall making the consumer’s shopping experience more interactive and informative” where visitors can purchase from the brand’s catalogue of products. The retailer opened its first outlet store in Vancouver at the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in 2015 and now operates 10 stores across the country.
Zwilling is another example of a brand going direct-to-consumer by opening stores. Prior to opening its standalone units, the brand was only available in multi-brand retailers in Canada. Zwilling continues to be distributed wholesale across the country, though its new corporate stores are part of an effort by the company to own a larger market share by connecting with its customers directly.
Sustainable Organic Children’s Brand to Launch in Canada Early Next Year: New York City-based children’s lifestyle brand ‘art & eden’ will launch in Canada next spring. Founder Susan Correa says that it was created in a sustainable business model that “has embraced triple top line accountability.”
The art & eden product lines include fashions for boys and girls up to 10 years, as well as infants as young as three months. The brand has won several awards including being awarded ‘Best New Kids Brand’ as well as ‘Most Sustainable and Socially Responsible Brand”. Earlier this year, art & eden collaborated with Discovery as part of an effort to spread awareness of endangered and vulnerable animals. Product can be viewed on the retailer’s US website.
The company was founded in 2017 and is registered as a Public Benefit Corporation. Its approach “focuses on ensuring prosperity, while celebrating community and nature, so the results are far more positive, as they can be economically, ecologically and equitably enjoyed.” The brand utilizes a “give back platform” with the mantra of “buy better, do better”.
The company’s managing director Charlotte Taylor Wright is responsible for establishing the art & eden brand in Canada. That will include launching the ‘earth by art & eden’ collection at Babies R Us stores in Canada.
The launch of the brand in Canada comes at a time of intense competition — other homegrown brands have launched children’s apparel lines while international players continue to expand in Canada. The particular angle that art & eden is taking involves storytelling which is a smart move, as it will help create brand awareness for consumers while also providing a sense of ‘meaning’ which will give it a leg-up on fast-fashion competitors — it’s a trend being seen in adult fashions as well, including US-based women’s retailer Reformation which opened its first Canadian storefront at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre over the summer.
Unique Holiday Market Opens at Square One: For the second year, the Square One shopping centre in Mississauga is hosting the ‘Merry & Bright Holiday Market’ featuring a ‘Candyland’ theme. Square One partnered with Sheridan Visual Merchandising Arts to decorate the space. Annie Sloan sponsored the paint, IKEA furnished the workshop space, and Skittles is supplying sweet treats for guests.
The market is located next to Uniqlo on the second level of Square One — it joins ‘The Food District’ food hall and Cineplex’s ‘The Rec Room’ which both opened in a repurposed Target box last spring. The market itself features locally-crafted gifts, do-it-yourself workshops and various candy stations that are extremely eye-catching. The space is geared towards social media — a search on Instagram indicates the market, which opened at the end of November, is a hit. Merry & Bright Holiday Market remains open until December 24.
Square One’s efforts to be experiential will make the centre relevant for years to come — it’s at the heart of downtown Mississauga and is one of the busiest shopping centres in Canada in terms of annual footfall. Landlord Oxford Properties will also soon announce a unique entertainment concept that will also be educational.
Which Big-Box Retailers Are the Best in the Minds of Canadian Consumers? Software company SEMrush provided Retail Insider with data on Canadians’ sentiment around experiences with big-box retailers based on social media feedback and comments, with a focus on customer service.
The most positive responses included the following:
Shoppers Drug Mart (37%)
TJX (Winners/Marshalls/HomeSense) (22%)
The same research ranked the ‘most negative’ perception associated with big-box retailers in Canada. Those include:
Home Depot (38%)
Interestingly, two home improvement retailers, Lowe’s and Home Depot, were not seen favourably amongst respondents according to the SEMrush data. Lowe’s recently announced more store closures in Canada amid struggles — a source in the company tells us that the company is laying off assistant managers and district managers before the holidays, and we’ve been receiving various angry emails about the company which may have an uncertain future in Canada.
SEMrush’s social media data also notes that Shoppers Drug Mart’s perception is balanced evenly between the average amount of positive and negative feedback on Twitter. Best Buy and TJX are a close second with only 4% more negative tweets than positive. Grocer Metro’s customer service has a 5 % difference, while Walmart and Homesense have 12% more negative than positive tweets. The worst offender is Lowe’s, with 21% more negative than positive tweets overall — Lowe’s is going to need to find a way to overcome these challenges both in the minds of consumers as well as employees as we head into 2020.