Minimalist Japanese retailer MUJI has announced that it will open two Vancouver stores this year. Both stores will be the largest in Canada when they open, and at least one will be considered to be a flagship. MUJI entered the Canadian market in November of 2014 with a location in Toronto, and it plans to eventually operate as many as 20 stores in Canada by the year 2020.
The two MUJI locations that will open this year include a street-front store on Robson Street, and a mall location at Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby. The Robson Street store will span about 10,000 square feet, making it the largest in Canada, and tied with a 10,000 square foot flagship opening in Boston on Friday of this week. The Metrotown store will be approximately 8,000 square feet.
MUJI’s Robson Street store will become the retailer’s third flagship location in North America, adding an injection into the street’s 1100 block that also recently saw the addition of Paris-based Ladurée. Further details on its exact location will be revealed shortly.
“We’re excited to welcome MUJI to Robson Street, which will add excitement to the 1100 block,” said Teri Smith, Executive Director of the Robson Street Business Association. She went on to say that MUJI will be “good for the rest of the area”, as downtown Vancouver continues to add new and exciting retailers to its already strong mix.
MUJI currently operates three Canadian stores, all in the Greater Toronto Area. The retailer entered the Canadian market in November of 2014 when it opened a 4,400 square foot location in ‘The Atrium’ at 20 Dundas Street West in downtown Toronto. MUJI’s second Canadian store opened in November of 2015 at the Square One shopping centre in Mississauga, spanning 5,225 square feet. In October of this year, MUJI opened its largest Canadian store, at 6,375 square feet, in Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The Yorkdale store is located next to Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo, in the mall’s recently-opened Nordstrom-anchored expansion wing.
MUJI is expanding its operations across Canada. In a recent email interview with Retail Insider, Canadian President Toru Akita revealed that MUJI plans on operating between 15 and 20 stores in Canada by the year 2020 — the first time that MUJI has publicly disclosed its anticipated Canadian store count.
In the same interview, Mr. Akita also said that MUJI is considering opening an additional one to three stores in the Greater Toronto Area within the next year, which means that Toronto could house between four and six MUJI stores by 2018. Landlords in various other Canadian cities have also confirmed with us that they have been in discussions with MUJI.
MUJI operates 13 American stores, with more to follow as it expands in the US. Of the locations currently open, seven are in the New York City area, three are in the San Francisco Bay area, and three are in southern California. A 10,000 square foot Boston flagship will open on Friday of this week — MUJI’s second flagship in North America.
Muji’s largest store in North America is at 475 5th Avenue in New York City, totalling 11,650 square feet.
Known for being innovative and its products being affordable and unbranded, MUJI carries various household items, furniture, appliances, stationery and apparel. With hundreds of stores worldwide (over 400 in Japan and about 400 internationally), it saves money by spending little to nothing on market research and advertising. MUJI is short for Mujirushi Ryohin, or no-brand superior items, and was founded in 1980 as the private-label brand of a major supermarket chain (not unlike Canada’s Joe Fresh).