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MINISO Launches Aggressive 500 Store Canadian Expansion

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Chinese variety retailer MINISO, which positions itself as a ‘Japanese lifestyle brand’, has big plans for Canada. The company opened its first Canadian store in Vancouver last month, and it could eventually operate as many as 500 stores in Canada, according to a representative. 

MINISO is a value-priced retailer that might be classified as a variety store, specializing in household and consumer goods that include cosmetics, stationery, toys and kitchenware. It was co-founded in 2013 by Japanese designer Junya Miyake and Chinese entrepreneur Ye Guo Fu, and is headquartered in Guangzhou, China. MINISO’s signage and branding appears similar to that of fast-fashion Japanese chain UNIQLO, which opened its first Canadian store last fall. 

In fact, MINISO says on its own website that it considers itself to be a competitor to UNIQLO, as well as Japanese retailer MUJI, which is also expanding into Canada with multiple store locations. Competition could become fierce — MINISO launches new products every seven days. 

Photo: Miniso
(SCREEN CAPTURE FROM MINISO’S CORPORATE WEBSITE) 
Photo: Miniso

MINISO launched its North American expansion last month with individual stores in Pasadena, California, and in Vancouver, Canada. The Vancouver store is located at 1256 West Broadway in the city’s Fairview area, and more Lower Mainland locations are confirmed as MINISO begins its Canadian expansion.  

According to Jack Liang, Market Development Manager for MINISO (Canada) Store Inc., MINISO will open between 30 and 50 stores in Canada over the next 12 months, with the potential to operate as many as 500 Canadian stores in the coming years. 

Photo: Miniso
(SCREEN CAPTURE FROM MINISO’S CORPORATE WEBSITE)

Next week, MINISO will open its second Canadian store at Tsawwassen Mills, south of Vancouver, and in July two locations are confirmed — one at West Vancouver’s Park Royal, and another at 550 Granville Street, across from Holt Renfrew. Mr. Liang says that there are nine stores under negotiation right now, as MINISO looks to blitz the Canadian market with stores utilizing a franchise model. 

After an initial Canadian expansion in the Vancouver region, MINISO will target major cities including Toronto and Montreal, said Mr. Liang. He noted that several Toronto locations are already in the works. MINISO plans to open dozens of stores annually in Canada over the next several years.

If things go as planned, MINISO could significantly disrupt a segment of Canadian retailing, particularly those in the value-priced variety retail space. Homegrown chain Dollarama, which says it plans to eventually operate 1,700 stores in Canada, could see some market share go to MINISO if the new entrant gains traction. Depending on the extent of MINISO’s product assortment in its Canadian stores, even larger chains such as Canadian Tire could see competition in certain product categories. Japanese retailer MUJI, which is also expanding across Canada, carries many of the same product categories as MINISO and is therefore also a competitor. 

*Photos via MINISO’s corporate website. 

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Editor-in-Chief of Retail Insider and President/CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton, and consultant to the Retail Council of Canada. 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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13 COMMENTS

  1. Went for the first time in the Oshawa centre. I love this store!! Reminds me of a chain in Europe but better!! Would love franchise info!!

    • I thought this too! There’s a store called TGR in Northern Europe (and likely elsewhere, I just know it in Sweden) that this was super reminiscent of. Love it!

          • That would be ‘Giant Tiger’. And that’s where things get a bit complicated — Giant Tiger (discounter) is Ottawa-based, there’s a fashion line from Europe called ‘Tiger of Sweden’ (has a store in Toronto) and this is another brand that issued an RFP a couple of years ago in anticipation of entering the Canadian market: https://flyingtiger.com

            Perhaps Tony from Kellogs can sort this all out 😉

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