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Matt & Nat Launches Aggressive Standalone Store Expansion

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Montreal-based eco-friendly accessory fashion brand Matt & Nat is launching an expansion this year that will see it rapidly expand its store count in Canada, as well as expand into the United States with its first stores. The company is also launching a premium line of accessories this month that will include luxury detailing and design.

The highly respected Matt & Nat brand (short for “mat(t)erial” and “nature”), which was founded in Montreal in 1995, is known for not using leather or any other animal-based materials in its bag and accessory designs. Since 2007, it has been committed to using linings only made out of 100% recycled plastic bottles, and it recently introduced recycled bicycle tires to its collections. The brand launched with a collection of accessories and it has since expanded to also carry a range of footwear designs. Matt & Nat wholesales to retailers in Canada as well as globally, and it also has a robust ecommerce business at mattandnat.com/shop.

According to Manny Kohli, President and owner of Matt & Nat, the company is about to launch a new premium collection called ‘Studio 901’. The line will include a range of accessories that will look and feel luxurious, featuring gold hardware, exceptional fabrics, and a range of colours.

Matt & Nat only recently got into retailing and according to Mr. Kohli, its stores are very successful. Matt & Nat’s first freestanding store opened in March of 2016 at the CF Carrefour Laval shopping centre near Montreal, with about 1,000 square feet of retail space. A second store opened in October 2016, spanning about 1,400 square feet at Quartier DIX30, in Brossard, and a third location opened in Ottawa’s CF Rideau Centre in May of 2017, with about 1,400 square feet on the mall’s second level. Most recently, Matt & Nat opened two Toronto-area stores — one at CF Sherway Gardens in Toronto spanning 1,470 square feet, as well as a 1,450 square foot location at Square One in Mississauga. The company also operates an outlet store at Premium Outlets Montreal.

This fall, Matt & Nat is launching an expansion that will see it open more stores in Canada and, for the first time, in the United States. On November 15, the brand will open its second outlet store at Premium Outlets Toronto, which is expanding its property while adding a roster of leading luxury brands. This month, as well, Matt & Nat is opening two pop-up locations in the New York City area — one is in the Soho area in Manhattan, and the other at Roosevelt Field on Long Island. If all goes as planned, permanent locations could follow.

In the spring of 2019, Matt & Nat will open its first store in Western Canada at CF Chinook Centre in Calgary, marking the beginning of a cross-Canada expansion that could see more locations open in Alberta as well as British Columbia. Mr. Kohli explained how Western Canada is a leading market for Matt & Nat and as such, targeted locations will include Edmonton and Vancouver, the latter which could support as many as three standalone stores, he said.

As well, Matt & Nat’s first store location at CF Carrefour Laval in suburban Montreal will be relocating in the spring of 2019. Mr. Kohli explained that the brand has outgrown its initial 1,000 square foot space, and that its new store will measure an impressive 1,800 square feet, making it the company’s flagship.

As many as 15 Matt & Nat stores could open in 2019, according to Mr. Kohli, in leading malls as well as on significant commercial high streets. The company is negotiating with landlords on the US West Coast in top malls in markets such as metropolitan Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles, with announcements to be made once lease deals are finalized.

More locations are planned for Canada as well, and the standalone expansion will be done carefully so as to respect the brand’s valued wholesale accounts. The goal is to continue to grow Matt & Nat’s brand awareness to drive sales at all distribution points, not to mention its expansive e-commerce site. Mr. Kohli said that the company could open a third outlet store in Western Canada, though the company will focus on opening mainline stores as it grows.

Mr. Kohli revealed that the brand could even expand outside of North America, with the company eyeing a retail space on popular Regent Street in London, UK. The multi-level retail space could become a showpiece for the brand if secured.

Matt & Nat is working with brokerage Oberfeld Snowcap for its store expansion, under the direction of Jay Freedman and Jessica Millet.

Retail Insider will follow up and report on Matt & Nat as it ramps ups its international expansion — the brand is another example of a Canadian brand that is resonating with global consumers.

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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