Bailey Nelson Plans Cross-Canada Expansion

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Value-priced Aussie eyewear retailer Bailey Nelson has big plans for Canada. The company has revealed that it will open a fifth Canadian location next month, and it sees the potential to open substantially more. We spoke with a company representative to gain insight into Bailey Nelson’s long-term plans for the Canadian market.

Founded in Bondi Beach (Sydney) Australia in 2012, Bailey Nelson retails high-quality, on-trend glasses and sunglasses in the $145 to $345 price range. It designs and manufactures its high-quality frames and uses top-quality lenses. Prices are a fraction of the cost of some competitors, and customer reviews reflect satisfaction with the company’s customer service and product selection. Bailey Nelson operates boutiques in Australia, New Zealand and the U.K., as well as four Canadian stores.

Bailey Nelson’s first Canadian location opened in Vancouver’s Gastown area in the summer of 2014. It has since opened three more locations — at Vancouver’s Bentall Centre, on Queen Street West in Toronto, and at Square One in Mississauga. Next month, the eyewear brand will open its fifth Canadian location at Metropolis at Metrotown in suburban Vancouver, and more are on the way as the company looks to grow its Canadian operations.

Manager of East Coast Operations, David Oliver, provided us with insight into Bailey Nelson Canadian expansion plans, as well as why the company has seen immediate success. Mr. Oliver explained how non-commissioned sales staff leads to a no-pressure, ‘fun’ sales environment, and how customers are encouraged to try on glasses and even take ‘selfies’ to forward to friends for opinion. Sales staff are there to assist and educate as well as to assist in picking out what looks best, and customers are free to browse on their own if they so choose. Store interiors are clean, minimalist, and inviting, reflecting a somewhat ‘industrial’ aesthetic. Reclaimed wood flooring characterizes some locations, and the company uses local millwork companies and suppliers wherever possible.

Mr. Oliver explained that the brand is already doing exceptionally well in Canada, prompting plans to open more Canadian stores. Its Canadian store count is expected to double by the end of next year as the company is considering retail space in malls and on busy high streets. For locations with in-house optometrists, Bailey Nelson ideally seeks space in the 700 square foot to 1,200 square foot range and for locations without optometrists, it can operate smaller locations, measuring in the 400 square foot to 600 square foot range. Mr. Oliver revealed that although the company hasn’t settled on an ideal number of Canadian store locations, it could possibly see as many as 50 Canadian locations open over the next several years, coast-to-coast.

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Publisher & CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Advisor at the University of Alberta School Centre for Cities and Communities in Edmonton, former lawyer and a public speaker. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

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