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South Korean Cosmetic Brand ‘Innisfree’ Looks to Enter Canada with Retail Stores 

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South Korean ‘naturalism-oriented’ cosmetic brand Innisfree is planning to open stores in Canada, and it has retained brokerage CBRE to secure locations in at least two major markets. Innisfree is the latest international brand looking to enter Canada, which is becoming increasingly crowded as a record number of foreign retailers open new stores. 

Innisfree, which operates hundreds of stores globally, is part of the Seoul-based AmorePacific Corporation, which features 33 health, beauty and personal brands under its corporate umbrella. AmorePacific launched the Innisfree brand in 2002 and it now has stores in Asia, Australia and most recently, the United States.  

Innisfree’s slogan is “Clean Island, where clean nature and healthy beauty coexist happily,” and the brand is known to be eco-friendly. Particularly targeting women aged in their 20’s and 30’s, Innisfree is known for being South Korea’s first all-natural brand, with many of its ingredients being sourced from Jeju Island. Its products include a wide range of products for both women and men — that includes skin care, makeup, hair and body products, fragrances, beauty tools, and sun care. 

About 80% of Innisfree’s ingredients are natural and the company says that its products are “plant-to-bottle”. The company also promotes its “green life” with activities such as reforestation efforts, recycling programs, and even an ‘eco-hankie’ to replace disposable paper products. The company donates 1% of its profits to eco-initiatives. 

Prices are aimed to be affordable, with many products ranging in the $20 to $30 range. The goal is to be accessible to a broad range of potential consumers, which will ultimately help it grow more rapidly than some pricier beauty brands. 

Innisfree currently operates three stores in the United States. It first opened in New York City in the fall of 2017 at 862 Broadway, just north of Union Square in Manhattan. A second store opened at the Garden State Plaza on Long Island in July of this year and this month, the brand opened its third US store at the base of a unique mixed-use building on Lexington Avenue, across from Bloomingdales’s flagship store. 

Innisfree is now looking to enter the Canadian market, and has partnered with brokerage CBRE for its Canadian expansion. Toronto and Vancouver are the initial target markets. Stores will ideally be in the 1,800 square foot to 3,000 square foot range and be located in major malls, as well as on high streets where it may operate flagship locations. In Toronto, Innisfree is working with Arlin Markowitz and Selina Tao. In Vancouver, CBRE’s Martin Moriarty and Mario Negris are handling any negotiations in that region. 

Innisfree is entering an already competitive market that is seeing beauty brands opening their own stores as well as expanding in larger host retailers such as department stores, Sephora, and even drug stores such as Rexall and Shoppers Drug Mart. More beauty brands are opening standalone locations — Clinique opened its first standalone store in Canada at CF Richmond Centre several months ago, and other international brands such as Aesop, Urban Decay, Valmont and Benefit are also opening freestanding units. Canadian brands such as Deciem and Consonant Skincare continue to open stores and Innisfree will even be competing with Korean retailers such as The Face Shop and VDL, both of which are expanding their network of stores. 

Canada saw a record-breaking number of international retailers enter the country by opening stores in 2017, with more than 50 brands opening either standalone stores or concessions. This year has also seen a considerable number of retailers open stores with more on the way — we’ll tally the numbers at the end of 2018.

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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