By Craig Patterson
Minimalist Japanese retailer MUJI has publicly announced that it will be expanding its first Canadian store, located at the Atrium in downtown Toronto, and that it will temporarily relocate into a temporary space during the construction. The expansion is expected to grow the Toronto store to become more in line in terms of size of MUJI’s two West Coast locations, which are both larger than its current four Toronto stores.
MUJI opened at the Atrium in November of 2014 in a 4,373 square foot retail space formerly occupied by a Blacks Camera store. MUJI then proceeded to open larger stores in some of Canada’s leading malls — its second Canadian location spanning 5,225 square feet opened at Mississauga’s Square One in November of 2015, followed by the October 2016 opening at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre (6,375 square feet) and the Summer 2017 debut of a 6,000 square foot space at CF Markville, north of Toronto.
MUJI cracked the 7,000 square foot mark in Canada when it unveiled a 7,770 square foot space to massive crowds in August of 2017 at Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby — the crowds were no doubt because this was MUJI’s first store on Canada’s West Coast. An impressive 14,507 square foot store opened on Robson Street in Vancouver in December of 2017, making the store MUJI’s largest outside of Asia.
MUJI’s current location at 20 Dundas Street in the Atrium will temporarily relocate to a space towards Bay Street, as per the floor plan below, while the current space is expanded.
Women’s retailer Long Tall Sally recently relocated from its 3,670 square foot retail space, adjacent to MUJI, to a new one across the hall. The combined retail spaces could see MUJI occupy more than 8,000 square feet and that is the case, this could become Canada’s second-largest MUJI location after the Robson Street flagship in Vancouver.
“After welcoming Muji to Canada with their first store at Atrium in 2014, H&R REIT and Atrium have continued to work closely with this iconic Japanese retailer. We recognize their exceptional performance and strong connection with the Canadian consumer. As Muji moves to a new interim location on the northeast corner of Bay & Dundas within Atrium, we will continue to work closely with their team to achieve optimal positioning and expansion at Atrium in concert with our overall redevelopment objectives,” said Mike Parker, President of MPA Inc., responsible for development and leasing at Atrium on behalf of H&R REIT, its owners.
Mr. Parker went on to further discuss the property, including its exceptional location.
“Atrium is a first class, mixed use office/retail complex of approximately one million square feet in the heart of Downtown Toronto, Yonge and Dundas and spanning a city block bounded by Yonge, Dundas, Bay and Edward Streets. Atrium is directly connected to the TTC Dundas subway platform, Toronto’s amazing underground PATH network, adjacent to Ryerson University and is immediately north of CF Toronto Eaton Centre. Earlier this year, Atrium welcomed Michael Jordan’s first store to Canada at 306 Yonge (approx 15,000sf) and is home to other first-class retailers including LCBO, Canada Post, CIBC, Rexall, The Kitchen Table, Long Tall Sally, Boathouse and more.”
Brokerage CBRE has been involved with MUJI’s negotiations across Canada, led by Arlin Markowitz, Senior Vice President of CBRE’s Downtown Toronto Urban Retail Team. CBRE Vancouver‘s office, including Martin Moriarty and Mario Negris, were involved in the two Vancouver deals.
In an interview with Retail Insider in late 2016, MUJI’s Canadian President Toru Akita revealed that the company plans to operate between 15 and 20 stores in Canada by the year 2020. MUJI currently operates 14 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, one is in Boston, and three are in southern California.
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 (with 422 in Japan and about 428 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.
Craig Patterson, now based in Toronto, is the founder and Editor-in-Chief Retail Insider. He’s also a retail and real estate consultant, retail tour guide and public speaker.
For more retail news: Canadian Retail News From Around The Web: January 5, 2018