Brief: Mendocino Shuts All Stores, Okaïdi Canada Files

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Fashion Retailer Mendocino Shuts All Physical Stores

Toronto-based women’s fashion retailer Mendocino has shut all of its Canadian stores as it shifted all operations online. The Mendocino website has been shut down though the retailer’s M Boutique website remains operational.

The retailer once operated more than 20 stores under the Mendocino and M Boutique banners in Southern Ontario. The majority of those were in the Greater Toronto Area.


Mendocino filed for creditor protection in July of this year after the company’s stores were shut down temporarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time the company said that it was not bankrupt and that it had been looking at keeping some of its physical stores open.

Mendocino was founded by husband-wife team Jan Kaplan and Norma Caron in 1987. The multi-brand retailer carries a range of popular brands focusing on a mid to upper-mid price-point. About a decade ago Mendocino launched the M Boutique concept which features a fast-fashion offering at a lower price point.

Retailers that have shut stores to pursue e-commerce only have been met with limited success. It remains to be seen how long M Boutique operates without physical locations.


Okaïdi Canada Files for Creditor Protection

The Canadian division of French children’s fashion retailer Okaïdi has filed a Notice of Intention to Make a Proposal under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. In filing documents, the retailer says that it is insolvent and has outstanding debts exceeding $15 million. The situation was first reported in Insolvency Insider last week.

Okaïdi Canada’s debts include about $150,000 owed to employees and substantially more to mall landlords. Okaïdi Canada owes hundreds of thousands of dollars to Cadillac Fairview, Oxford Properties, Ivanhoe Cambridge, and Cominar, among others.

The retailer operates 15 stores in Quebec and Ontario and said in filings that COVID-19 has resulted in substantial losses requiring restructuring. Negotiations are ongoing with landlords and it’s unclear if any stores will be closing. Richter is the proposal trustee. BDG Law is acting as council for the retailer and Stikeman Elliott is acting on behalf of Richter.


Flexible Workspace Replaces Shinola Store on Toronto’s West Queen West

An innovative flexible workspace called Workmode has moved into a corner retail space once occupied by a Shinola store at 1000 Queen Street West in Toronto. The prominent building at the corner of Ossington Avenue was originally built for a bank. Shinola vacated the Queen Street store in January of this year after opening to fanfare in July of 2016.

Workmode is described as an on-demand, pay-by-the-hour workspace catering to decentralized workers living in the area. It’s part of a “15-minute neighbourhood” according to the company. No membership is required and bookings can made directly through the company’s app.

Hullmark, which owns several buildings in the area, owns the 1000 Queen building and is said to be looking for new tenant options in the area. Recently Hullmark completed a unique renovation to buildings located at 46-54 Ossington Avenue.


The Gap to Exit Many Canadian Malls

The Gap is rethinking its real estate strategy and is looking to eventually operate about 80% of its stores in strip centres, downtowns, and outlet malls by 2023. It’s more bad news for Canadian shopping centre landlords that are already grappling with vacancies as retailers shut following COVID-19 closures in the spring.

At the same time, the Gap is looking to boost e-commerce to about 50% of sales, double what it is now in North America. The Old Navy brand stands out in terms of profitability and is expected to open a handful more stores in Canada over the next three years.

The Gap has been quietly closing stores across Canada. This month we reported that the Banana Republic flagship on Bloor Street West in Toronto had shut its doors after 25 years in operation, and the future of the 60 Bloor Gap store is also uncertain. Various other Gap-owned strorefronts have closed — BMO Capital Markets estimates that Gap Inc. has closed about 500 stores in North America over the past decade.

Things could turn around for the Gap in early 2021 as the retailer launches a Yeezy capsule collection with musician Kanye West. If the collection takes off, the Gap could be seen in a new light by consumers.


Star Bédard to become Beauté Star, as part of a retail and brand reinvention

Top Beauty Group (TBG) which comprises Star Bédard, as well as M2B, Professional by Fama, and Madame B2K, is rebranding its chain of retail stores, launching a new website, and unveiling a new prototype store in Drummondville, Quebec.

The company known for its hair and beauty products — which has been family owned and run since 1978 — operates 24 Star Bédard/M2B stores in the Province of Quebec, as well as Northern New Brunswick and Eastern Ontario. The stores will now operate under the Beauté Star moniker, kicking off a new direction for the Quebec-based company.

“We created a name change to support both brands,” says Andrew St-Charles, Directeur, E-commerce et Marketing for TBG. “The name change is also based on a change to our business model.”

The company is first launching a new direct-to-consumer website and, on November 30, plans to debut its new prototype store, which St-Charles calls “feminine and exciting”. Designed by famed architects Provencher-Roy, the new store is experiential with a strong digital focus — featuring an in-store shopping app and iPads throughout the space. The new store will not be open to consumers until 2021.

In time, all 24 Star Bédard locations will rebrand as Beauté Star, but for now, the initial focus in on building the direct-to-consumer brand online.


Nobis Launching Virtual Coat Drive

Canadian premium outerwear brand Nobis has announced the launch of No Cold Shoulder, a global campaign starting November 1 which will upcycle gently worn winter jackets and get them on to the shoulders of the most vulnerable members in local communities. With 8.7% of the Canadian population living below the poverty line, an estimated 1 in 12 families are challenged to find the means to purchase appropriate winter gear to stay warm this winter.

“Nobis is Latin for ‘us,’ and since our early beginnings we have embraced the responsibility of community support within both our personal and corporate conduct. True to the ethos of our brand name, which aligns seamlessly with our personal values, the entire Nobis team is extremely excited to continue this commitment in launching the No Cold Shoulder global community campaign. With the help of our entire team including retail partners, ambassadors and brand supporters, we have targeted to keep upwards of 15,000 people around the globe warm this winter season,” said Robin Yates, Vice-President and Co-founder of Nobis. “Even during an exceptionally challenging year, people are looking for ways to help. We want to make it easier than ever for Canadians to participate and provide warmth to children, families, and individuals in need with the No Cold Shoulder program.”

Starting in November, consumers can participate in a variety of ways to help give the gift of warmth in their community. At the heart of the campaign is a resealable, biodegradable donation mailer bag with pre-paid postage to encourage the donation of a gently worn coat to a local charity in need. Consumers can pick up the mailer at Nobis stores or at any of the participating retailers listed on

In Canada, Nobis will donate $50 from the purchase of every piece of outerwear sold during November to New Circles Community Services, a community-based charity operating Toronto’s largest free clothing program GLOW (Gently Loved Outfits to Wear), which annually helps 13,000 newcomers, refugees and economically vulnerable families in Toronto to meet their basic needs and live and work with dignity.

Nobis is available at upscale retailers across Canada, and the brand also operates two standalone stores in Toronto.


RW&CO Partners with HelloFresh for Prize

A recent partnership between HelloFresh and RW&CO is giving Canadians the opportunity to win six months of delicious and high-quality HelloFresh meal kits and a $2,000 RW&CO gift card.

The contest is open for people to enter until November 15, 2020. The total prize value is $5,200.

To learn more and to have an opportunity at winning visit

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