Giorgio Armani‘s first Canadian outlet opens late next month at the Toronto Premium Outlets. Armani is currently recruiting management and staff for the new store, and will be holding a job fair towards the end of this month. Armani’s Toronto outlet could be the first of multiple Canadian locations, as it rolls-out the concept throughout North America. We consulted with a retail expert on the new store, who explained how Armani must maintain exceptional customer service and merchandising so as to not devalue its brand.
Reviewing Giorgio Armani’s career website, it seems to suggest that the brand is growing its outlet store division, with several new US locations. Giorgio Armani has 46 outlet stores worldwide, including 10 US locations. As many as four new American outlets could open by this fall, from what we see on the website.
Sources at Giorgio Armani’s corporate office in New York City wouldn’t confirm what collections will be carried at Toronto’s outlet store, nor where the product would come from. In Canada, Giorgio Armani’s pricey Black Label women’s collections are currently carried in shops-in-stores at Holt Renfrew in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. The Black Label men’s collection is carried in select Harry Rosen stores. Its less expensive Armani Collezioni, Emporio Armani, Armani Junior and Armani Jeans lines are carried at various retailers in Canada. As well, Canada is home to 12 A/X Armani Exchange locations, the company’s least expensive label.
Sources speculate that Toronto’s Armani outlet could be the first of multiple Canadian locations. Currently under construction and scheduled to open this fall, the Montreal Premium Outlets will feature upscale outlets including Max Mara, Ralph Lauren and Coach. Vancouver’s luxurious McArthurGlen Designer Outlets are scheduled to open in the spring of 2015, and is the first North American project for the British-based outlet developer. We can’t confirm if either will house Armani outlets, at this time.
Retail expert Suzanne Sears, owner of Best Retail Careers International Inc., provided us with an excellent analysis of Armani’s first Canadian outlet. Ms. Sears says that the success of Armani’s outlet store will partly depend on which, if not all, Armani banners are included in the store. The challenge for Armani’s outlets, according to Ms. Sears, is to find the local ‘Euro street style’ shopper who isn’t already buying Giorgio Armani either at full price on Bloor Street, in major malls, or on their travels abroad. These consumers are likely familiar with what Armani fashions are from what season, and their time is as valuable as any potential outlet discounts. If an Armani outlet doesn’t deliver, it risks devaluing the entire brand.
Ms. Sears says that Armani cannot compromise on service and presentation, if it wants its outlets to succeed. Some brands, according to Ms. Sears, believe that that lower outlet prices mean that they can hire less experienced staff, as well as pay less attention to the presentation of the outlet’s merchandise. Ms. Sears says that a top complaint from many outlet mall shoppers, when shopping for luxury brands, is that they want value without compromising the quality of display and service associated with the brand, right down to the packaging of the product. Ultimately, she says: “Armani is a brand people respect and want to own. If they are able to deliver a full service experience and hire and train top people, they should do very well.”