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Sporting Life Founder Discusses National Expansion Plans

Toronto-based sport and fashion retailer Sporting Life continues to expand across Canada and according to President/CEO/co-founder, David Russell, the company could eventually operate up to 20 Canadian store locations. Last week, Sporting Life opened its newest store at Hillcrest Mall in Richmond Hill, Ontario, and earlier this month the company’s first western Canadian location opened at Calgary’s Southcentre

In an interview last week, Mr. Russell revealed two new locations for Sporting Life, both opening next year: a 48,700 square foot location at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre, as well as a roughly 44,000 square foot store at CF Market Mall in Calgary. The Yorkdale store will be located in a new southwest mall expansion alongside RH (Restoration Hardware), and will be Sporting Life’s fifth store in the Greater Toronto Area. The CF Market Mall unit will be the second for Calgary, and will occupy part of the mall’s former Target space, along with Zara and other retailers.

Sporting life is working with brokerage Northwest Atlantic for its Canadian expansion plans, with Chris Wood handling Western Canada and Sam Windberg handling Sporting Life’s eastward real estate expansion. 

Mr. Russel said that the Sporting Life brand will become truly national as it expands into British Columbia, with plans for three store locations in the Lower Mainland. While the Calgary market will be adequately served with two stores, an Edmonton location is a goal for the company, he said. The Greater Toronto Area has room for between two and three more Sporting Life locations, according to Mr. Russell, and the Montreal region could eventually see as many as three stores as well. Store locations will ideally be in the 44,000 square foot range, he said. 

Sporting Life operates stores on Toronto’s Yonge Street (2665 Yonge Street and ‘Bikes & Boards’ at 2454 Yonge Street) as well as at Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens (which relocated to a new space in Sept. 2015), Collingwood ON (222 Hurontario Street), Markham ON (CF Markville), Vaughan ON (Vaughan Mills), Ottawa (Lansdowne), and the most recent locations in Calgary and Richmond Hill. 

Founded in 1979, Sporting Life sells apparel and footwear, as well as equipment geared towards runners, cyclists, skiers, snowboarders and hikers. It has a large selection of outerwear, fleece and coats from popular brands Moncler, Canada Goose, Arc’teryx and The North Face, among others. It also carries a mix of high-end and casual clothing brands such as Barbour, Bogner, Hugo Boss, Mackage, John Varvatos and others. Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. bought 75% of Sporting Life in December of 2011.

*Renderings above are via Sporting Life. 

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Are the renderings from Yorkdale’s location? Also, is the Yorkdale Sporting Life located in the former Sears building or built separately? If so, is the Shoppers Dug Mart or the entrance closing?

    • These renderings are of Calgary Southcentre, which recently opened. Sporting Life will basically be in the Sears space — we’ll provide a floor plan when available, as there are big things coming to that side of the mall. No plans to close SDM as far as we’re aware.

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