By Craig Patterson
Popular off-price multi-brand American footwear retailer DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse has announced that it will be opening three stores in Canada this spring, bringing its Canadian store count to 27 units nationally. Of the three new locations, two stores will be located in Ontario, and one will be in suburban Edmonton — the Edmonton store will be in a centre that’s been somewhat secretive about its tenant mix until now.
All three stores will feature DSW Kids footwear and accessory departments, bringing the total number of stores with kids’ products to 17 in Canada. The new stores will also include about 1,500 square feet dedicated to women’s handbags, as DSW further grows its accessory business to compliment expansive off-price footwear offerings.
The two new Ontario locations will both open on March 1 of this year in suburban Toronto — one at Trinity Commons in Brampton, and another at RioCan Durham Centre. Both properties are owned and operated by RioCan REIT.
The Trinity Commons DSW store in Brampton will span about 25,000 square feet, according to lease plans provided by RioCan. DSW will join a 25,000 square foot Winners as well as a new 23,170 square foot Michaels store in a demised retail box that once housed a Target store — Target exited its Canadian operations entirely in the spring of 2015. Other anchors at Trinity Commons include the Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Metro and a Cineplex Silver City movie theatre, as well as several other anchors exceeding 20,000 square feet in the suburban big-box centre.
The Ajax store, located at RioCan Durham Centre, will measure about 20,000 square feet, according to a lease plan provided by RioCan. The store will be located between a Structube furniture store that will open soon, and a large PetSmart location. RioCan Durham Centre is also a significant big-box centre featuring large anchors such as Costco, Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Walmart, Canadian Tire and a Cineplex cinema, as well as several smaller anchors measuring 20,000 square feet or more.
The Edmonton DSW location will be at the highly anticipated Premium Outlet Collection — Edmonton International Airport, which opens to the public on May 2, 2018. DSW will occupy space ‘Anchor H’ according to plans, with the outlet centre having the address ‘1 Outlet Collection Way’.
The Premium Outlet Collection EIA has yet to release details on its other anchors and retailers, and is expected to make announcements closer to its official unveiling. A few retailers have confirmed that they will be opening at the centre, including Old Navy, Nike, Under Armour, ECCO and H&M, as well as at least two of TJX’s off-price brands. Nordstrom Rack and Saks OFF 5TH will not be opening at the outlet centre — Saks OFF 5TH has a store nearby at South Edmonton Common, and Nordstrom Rack will open (what will likely be its only Edmonton location) at South Edmonton Common in the fall of 2018.
When all three stores are open, DSW will have 27 store locations in Canada. DSW entered the Canadian market through a partial acquisition of Town Shoes Ltd, which operates banners Town Shoes, Shoe Warehouse and The Shoe Company. DSW’s first branded stores opened in the Toronto market in August of 2014, and DSW Inc. continues to have a 46.3% ownership in Town Shoes Limited.
DSW has managed to open stores in many major markets in Canada — and even some smaller markets such as Victoria, Regina, Moncton and Halifax. The retailer has no stores in Quebec as of yet, however. The company’s expansion slowed in 2017 from its initially rapid expansion that began in 2014, though this spring 2018 announcement could be a sign that things are ramping up in terms of store openings. With the closure of Sears Canada, large-format retailers such as DSW now have more real estate options at more favourable lease rates, as landlords seek to repurpose vacated space.
In the United States, DSW boasts 511 store locations in 43 states with more than 12,000 employees. The company was founded in 1969 as Shonac Corporation (a shoe licensee for Value City) and its first standalone DSW store opened in Dublin, Ohio, in July of 1991. The company continues to expand domestically as well as internationally, including opening partner stores in the Middle East.
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.