Brief: Luxury Brand Closes Only Canadian Store, Miniso Launches New Canadian Concept

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By Retail Insider

Italian Luxury Jeweller Pomellato Closes Only Canadian Storefront: The Pomellato boutique at CF Pacific Centre in Vancouver closed last month. The 1,050 square foot shop was a franchise of Vancouver-based Vestis Fashion Group. Pomellato opened in October of 2014 next to a Max Mara boutique that remains open and is run by the same franchisee. When the Vancouver store opened, franchisee Catherine Guadagnuolo said that the store stocked a one-of-a-kind $150,000 sapphire ring as well as considerably less costly items. 

The Vancouver Pomellato store was strategically located beside the mall entrance to the Four Seasons hotel, and was located up the hall from Harry Rosen, Zegna, Links of London, Canada Goose, Maje, Apple, Bose and Mackage on the mall’s ‘upper level’. A three-level H&M store located across from Pomellato recently expanded by adding a level. 

Pomellato was founded in 1967 and in 2013, it became part of the Kering Group luxury conglomerate. The brand has stores worldwide, and is known for its colourful gems that it uses in its designs. In Canada, the brand wholesales in a handful of upscale stores in Canada, including Bandiera Jewellers in the Toronto area, Berani Jewellers in Toronto, Château d’Ivoire in Montreal, and at Saks Fifth Avenue’s stores at CF Toronto Eaton Centre in Toronto and at CF Chinook Centre in Calgary. 

Vancouver’s Pomellato was one of only five standalone storefronts for the brand in North America. Pomellato also operates stores in New York City (741 Madison Avenue), Beverly Hills (214 N. Rodeo Drive), Chicago (41 E Oak Street), and Miami (Aventura Mall). 

Thank you to Urban Toronto’s ACT7 for notifying us of this closure. 

Bayview Village Partners with Weddingbells Magazine on “I Do, I Do, I Do” Pop-Up: Toronto’s Bayview Village Shopping Centre continues to innovate with colourful and unique temporary activations. its latest is a partnership with Weddingbells magazine that will see a month-long wedding-themed pop-up operate over the course of June. 

“Whether you’re a bride or groom-to-be, in a wedding party or on the guest list, our nuptial themed pop-up has unique moments and ideas to prepare everyone for wedding season,” says Rachael Tang, Marketing Director, Bayview Village. “We’ve partnered with some of the best vendors, experts and artisans to offer elevated experiences in a gorgeous, interactive space.” 

Included is fashion, jewellery and makeup consultations as well as couple-themed cooking classes, nutrition and financial seminars. Special events, activations and seminars are listed on Bayview Village’s website. 

The multi-room “I Do, I Do, I Do” space includes ‘the Marketplace’ which features wedding-related items such as flowers, accessories and wedding fashion from: Blossom and Bloom, Pop-Up Flower Shop, Humble Bee Candles & Co.,Valencienne, Felichia Bridal, NARCES, Camellia Wedding Gown and Brøsche Bridal Couture Lab. The ‘Something Blue Lounge’ is described as being a relaxing space with treats from Bread & Roses Bakery Café, while the ‘Gifted Lounge’ includes a curated collection of the best wedding gifts from the merchants of Bayview Village. A ‘Kissing Booth’ features Instagrammable moments where visitors may “pucker up and post” (it’s not limited to couples) as well as ‘The Love Ball’, which is a love-inspired interactive art installation. 

Landlord QuadReal, which operates Bayview Village, has been innovating with some of the most unique pop-up spaces Toronto has seen. Visionary Melissa Evans-Lee, who is now Vice President, Retail, National Marketing at QuadReal, as well as her team, have been instrumental in creating “haute” experiences at the Toronto shopping centre as well as with QuadReal’s other properties across the country. 

Gluten-Free ‘Almond Butterfly’ Opens 2nd Storefront Amid Expansion Plans: Toronto-based gluten-free cafe and bakeshop concept Almond Butterfly has opened its second location at 792 Dundas Street West just west of Bathurst Street. It follows a location at 100 Harbord Street in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood that opened in 2014. The company was founded in Montreal in 2014 as a home-based business prior to co-owners David Piesina Melody Saari relocating to Toronto. 

In October of 2018, the co-owners told Retail Insider that they planned to open six or more Toronto locations within the next 10 to 15 years, and the timeline could be more aggressive depending on growth. The company said that it might look at franchising locations. 

Mr. Piesina said, “We think Toronto has a lot to offer. It reminds me of New York. Each neighbourhood has its own mini strip, like a mini downtown. Every main drag in Toronto has a lot of residential behind it. There is a very strong urban presence here. It’s a foodie paradise here, with tons of opportunity for businesses who can set themselves apart from the crowd.”

The company is also contemplating a US and global expansion. Stan Vyriotes and David Wedemire of DWSV Remax Ultimate Realty are working with Almond Butterfly and negotiated the Dundas Street lease deal on behalf of the tenant. 

GEE Beauty Launches 1st-Ever Muskoka Pop-Up: Toronto-based GEE Beauty is opening a pop-up store in Ontario’s cottage country for the first time, and it will include a mix of beauty offerings as well as an edited mix of fashions catering to the location. The pop-up will operate July 2 to July 15 and will be open seven days a week.

The pop-up boutique will be located in Port Carling in the Dukes Building at 2 James Bartleman Way — Port Carling is a popular summer destination and is strategically located between Lake Muskoka and Lake Rosseau. Included in the pop-up will be brow and lash treatments, makeup applications and express facials as well as a range of curated beauty, skincare and wellness lines. Brands will include Dr. Barbara Sturm, Dr. Sebagh, Le Labo, Goop, Xirena, GEE Beauty’s own Prime Skin makeup collection, and 6 By GEE Beauty home essentials.

GEE Beauty operates a storefront in Toronto’s Rosedale area at the corner of Roxborough Street West and Yonge Street, with an adjacent lifestyle shop called 6 by GEE Beauty. The retailer also has a storefront in Miami Beach, Florida. 

Plateau Streetfront Retail Spaces Come Available in Montreal as Retailers Shutter: Two interesting retail spaces have come on the market in Montreal’s character-filled Plateau as some retailers are closing stores. Included are two retail spaces on Rue St-Denis Street, one of which was vacated by Urban Outfitters at 4301 St-Denis and another formerly occupied by Aveda at 4311 St-Denis. 

The Urban Outfitters space spans two levels and about 5,000 square feet with a 20-foot cathedral ceiling over its entrance. There’s room for a patio space in the front if a new tenant so desires. The two-level space at 4311 St-Denis includes a main floor of 1,925 square feet as well as a basement level with about 1,000 square feet. The space also features a wide sidewalk with an opportunity for a private patio. 

As well and nearby at 4238 St-Laurent, a retail space formerly occupied by Artemano is for lease. The space spans 4,400 square feet on one level and is available immediately. 

All spaces are being listed by Patrick Abezis of Think Retail (514-963-1762). 

Rue St. Denis and St-Laurent boast considerable character with stone architecture that is unique in North America to Quebec. The Plateau area features a mix of independent and national retail brands, as well as a medium-density residential area.

Jeff de Bruges Continues Expansion in Quebec and Possibly Ontario: French chocolatier and ice cream house Jeff de Bruges recently opened a kiosk at Carrefour Industrielle Alliance in Montreal as part of an ongoing expansion strategy. The 175 square foot space is contained within the 210,000 square foot historic building, which was once a Simpson’s department store and now houses a roster of restaurants and shops, as well as anchors La Maison Simons and a Scotiabank Theatre. 

Jeff de Bruges was launched by Philippe Jambon as a chocolatier in 1986. It started selling ice cream in 1990 and now operates more than 500 stores across France, including corporate and franchised locations, as well as nearly 40 international locations. The chocolates are imported from Belgium and ice cream is locally sourced and in Quebec, that supplier is Bilboquet. The stores have an ‘industrial chic vibe’ with a modern turquoise and brown palette that’s reflected in its packaging.

In September, as well, Jeff de Bruges will move from a temporary pop-up space to a new 650 square foot location at the overhauled Montreal Eaton Centre, which is seeing a $200-million redevelopment. It will replace the brand’s debut location at nearby Place Montreal Trust.

Jeff de Bruges is looking to expand in super-regional malls across the Province of Quebec and possibly open a location in Ottawa. It has two strong formats—kiosks of about 175 sq. ft. and inline stores of 500 to 850 square feet. The retailer is working with Tony Flanz of brokerage Think Retail for its expansion. 

Hillcrest Mall Adding New Retail Tenants: The Hillcrest Mall in Richmond Hill, just north of Toronto, recently added several new retail tenants with more to come. Recently the centre saw openings for fashion retailers Marks and Kiddie Kobbler (footwear) as well as food/beverage options including Mr. Pretzels and Szechuan Express. 

Coming soon, Hillcrest will see the openings of Hong Kong-based Mujosh, lingerie retailer La Vie En Rose and American Eagle. A new Tim Hortons and Real Fruit Bubble Tea will also debut in the centre. 

Landlord Oxford Properties has invested well over $100-million in Hillcrest since 2015, having renovated the centre while repurposing retail space vacated by retailers such as Target. The refreshed centre is one of the most attractive in the region. It was also the first of Oxford’s malls to feature beehives on its roof, and the initiative has since been expanded to other Oxford properties across the country. 

Japanese-Themed Variety Retailer ‘Oomomo’ Opens Massive Markham Flagship: “Authentic Japanese variety store” concept Oomomo , which was founded in Vancouver in 2017, has opened its largest store to date in Markham, just north of Toronto. The 23,000 square foot two-level retail space marks a shift for the brand, which will begin carrying more ‘high quality’ and ‘trendy’ items priced from $2 to $50. 

The Markham store is located at First Markham Place, which is a large Asian-themed strip mall at 3255 Highway 7. Markham and the immediate area is known for its predominantly Asian population. For a limited time, the store features pop-up stations that Oomomo says “will visually transport customers to Japan without leaving Toronto and experience a little bit of Japanese culture”. 

Products in Oomomo stores include Japanese ceramics, beauty products, Japanese snacks, stationery, cleaning supplies, kitchenware, organizer, gift wrapping supplies — a selection of product from Japanese brand Daiso is also on hand. 

Oomomo’s first store opened at West Edmonton Mall in the summer of 2017, which was followed by a store in December at CF Shops at Don Mills in Toronto. A second unit has opened in Edmonton as well as in suburban Vancouver. The company says that it  plans to open between 20 and 30 stores in Canada in the coming years. Store locations will ideally be in excess of 10,000 square feet for new locations, according to the retailer. 

“Japanese” Variety Retailer Miniso Launches ‘$10 Below’ Stores: Value-priced Chinese retailer Miniso, which positions itself as being a Japanese lifestyle brand, has launched a new retail concept in Canada where all products are priced at under $10. Two of the retailer’s existing Ontario units — at CF Toronto Eaton Centre in Toronto and at Pickering Town Centre in Pickering, have been repositioned for the new concept which the retailer says is “Mini price, Big surprise”. 

Miniso entered the Canadian market in 2017 with plans to open 500 stores across the country. Miniso has already opened more than 50 units and it appears to be growing quickly again. Last week it opened its first leased concession in Canada within a Walmart store in Toronto’s Stockyards area. The 3,000 square foot Miniso ‘shop-in-store’ is part of the innovative Walmart store that we profiled which includes ‘Amazon-Go’-like scan-and-go technology, among other innovations. 

Miniso’s Canadian operations were in question at the start of this year after Miniso’s Chinese parent company applied to put the Canadian division into bankruptcy amid claims of fraud. A settlement was reached and the Chinese division is said to be now running the Canadian operations, which are said to be highly successful in terms of sales numbers.

Another interesting “$10 store” concept will open in Toronto in September. Mal Coven of the former BiWay retail chain is launching a new ‘BiWay $10 Store’ concept with its first location set to open at 5990 Bathurst Street in Toronto’s North York.

Shopping Centres Support Toronto Raptors National Basketball League Finals: Across the GTA and beyond, landlords have been decking the halls with installations in support of the Toronto Raptors, which have a chance of winning this year’s NBA Finals. 

Ahead of Game 1 last week at CF Toronto Eaton Centre, flags were installed in the property in a ceremony that included Nav Bhatia (Raptors Superfan) and Mitch Marner (Toronto Maple Leafs). 

At the TD Centre office complex in Toronto’s Financial District, as well, landlord Cadillac Fairview coordinated lighting that spelled out ‘We the North’. 

Above is a slideshow of some photos supplied by Cadillac Fairview. Best of luck to the Toronto Raptors from everyone at Retail Insider.  

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Retail Insider, Publisher of Retail Insider the magazine and President/CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Advisor at the University of Alberta School Centre for Cities and Communities in Edmonton, and a public speaker. 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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  1. Hopefully another luxury brand (maybe jewelry) can replace Pomellato. It’d be cool to see Bvlgari but they’re already at Holt Renfrew. It’s a nice leasing opportunity though considering the other surrounding tenants for a luxury brand to enter/expand in the market.

    • Bulgari says that at some point, it will seek a standalone storefront somewhere near the Alberni Street ‘Luxury Zone’, though not for a few years (and if a space could be found). An executive explained to one of our editors that the market ‘wasn’t ready’ for a standalone storefront, and we actually disagree with that sentiment.


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