By Craig Patterson
British luxury jewellery brand Links of London is expanding its network of standalone stores in Canada. The company has just opened its first freestanding store in Vancouver, and it has also secured a space at Mississauga’s Square One, with plans to open this summer. More stores will follow as Links of London continues to seek out retail space in Canadian markets, where the retailer is seeing considerable success.
Links of London opened its first two standalone Canadian stores in the summer of 2016 in Toronto — an 860 square foot CF Toronto Eaton Centre boutique launched in June, followed by a 1,200 square foot location at CF Sherway Gardens about a month later. A 615 square foot Yorkdale boutique, Toronto’s third, opened in the summer of 2017. The Vancouver store marks the brand’s fourth freestanding Canadian boutique, spanning about 800 square feet at CF Pacific Centre, across from Harry Rosen and between Ermenegildo Zegna and a significant soon-to-be-announced retailer.
“We are thrilled to expand our brick-and-mortar presence in Canada and bring our freestanding retail concept to the West Coast,” said Leela Petrakis, President of FF Group North America, the parent company of Links of London. “With British heritage playing a greater role in Canadian society than ever before, we’re excited to introduce Vancouver’s CF Pacific Centre customers to our whimsical British jewellery, and the storytelling elements that are at the heart of the Links of London brand DNA.
The Vancouver store features an innovative made-to-order bespoke service — a popular feature in the brand’s Canadian stores. According to Ms. Petrakis, customization and personalization is seeing considerable success amongst Links of London’s Canadian customers. The brand’s ‘Sweetie Stylists’ help customers design a personalized ‘Sweetie bracelet’ with their selections of diamond and gemstone rondelles, precious metals and keepsake charms.
The Vancouver store also offers in-house engraving, which was introduced to Canada’s Links of London stores when its Yorkdale Shopping Centre store opened in the summer of 2017 — all current and future locations will feature engraving, given its remarkable success.
A section at the back of the store includes seating, as well as a display of men’s jewellery items. The retail concept, which is inspired by the design of a ‘London townhouse’, is already seeing very strong sales, noted Ms. Petrakis.
The Vancouver store technically opened on November 15 of 2017 as a ‘Holiday Shoppe’ pop-up, which temporally closed after the Holidays for a full renovation to reflect the brand’s updated store design and showcase its extensive collections.
Towards the middle of the summer, Links of London’s fifth Canadian store will open at Square One in Mississauga. The 800 square foot boutique, which will be triangular in shape, will boast a 30-foot wide glass facade in the mall’s ‘luxury wing’ that was unveiled in the summer of 2016. At the centre of the store will be a bracelet bar, as is the case with its other Canadian locations. The Square One Links of London store will be located in the luxury wing, between retailers Stuart Weitzman and Urban Decay, and across from Jamie’s Italian and Harry Rosen, in a wing that also houses Salvatore Ferragamo, Tory Burch, Rolex, and Holt Renfrew.
Ms. Petrakis said that Links of London is looking to open more standalone Canadian locations, and is considering cities such as Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal and possibly Ottawa — though locations have yet to be secured. Another Toronto store is a possibility as well — Ms. Petrakis noted that despite the fact that the city already has three standalone stores, Toronto is also a very strong online market for the brand. Choosing a location, be it a major shopping centre or urban street-front, requires careful consideration, she noted.
Links of London currently operates five freestanding U.S. locations, with four stores in New York City and a store at Forum Shops in Las Vegas. The brand also has a successful partnership with Bloomingdale’s, operating concession shops at select locations across the country. Links of London was founded in 1990 and has grown to become a global luxury brand.. The name ‘Links’ originated from the brand’s first product — the iconic salmon cufflinks, which became the springboard for its unique jewellery, timepieces and gifts for women, men and children.
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.