BRIEF: Murale Shutters Most Stores, Giant Tiger Breaks Ground on New Headquarters/Flagship


And then There Were Two: Shoppers Drug Mart Beauty Concept ‘Murale’ Shutters Almost All of its Locations: When Toronto-based Shoppers Drug Mart launched its upscale Murale beauty concept in 2008, it expected to open numerous stores in markets across the country. Murale stores feature premium skin care, cosmetics and fragrances along with expert service. Sephora entered the Canadian market in 2004 and Murale was expected to take some of its rapidly growing market share.  

The first Murale location opened in November of 2008 at Place D’Orleans in Ottawa, and a second flagship opened soon after in Montreal’s Galerie Place Ville-Marie in the city’s downtown core. Shoppers Drug Mart proceeded to open Murale locations across the country in markets including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and others in an attempt to grab market share from competitors. 

The Murale concept never ended up taking off and Shoppers Drug Mart has been closing Murale stores over the past several years. Until just a few months ago Murale had three remaining units which became two when a West Edmonton Mall storefront closed — last week we revealed the Uniqlo will open a store in the space while also expanding into adjacent spaces formerly occupied by Laura and Browns Shoes. 


Murale’s remaining two stores are at the CF Shops at Don Mills in Toronto and at Oakridge Centre in Vancouver. 

In 2016, Shoppers Drug Mart was strategizing a new standalone beauty concept with plans to expand nationally. The goal was to take market share from the likes of Sephora as well as department store chains such as Hudson’s Bay and Sears. The first location for the yet-to-be-named retail concept would have been at CF Shops at Don Mills. A first store was built for the new concept and instead of launching, the space was branded as Murale to replace a former location in the same shopping centre. 

At the same time, Shoppers Drug Mart continued to expand its shop-in-store ‘Beauty Boutique’ concept in many of its stores across the country, and with considerable success. Standalone units have even opened for Shoppers Drug Mart Beauty Boutique, including a location at the CORE in downtown Calgary across from the mall’s Shoppers Drug Mart store. 

Competition will heat up even further as US-based Ulta Beauty plans to enter the Canadian market with multiple locations. Given that Murale has only two locations remaining, one might anticipate that both close as the chain folds and Shoppers Drug Mart focuses on its successful Beauty Boutique concept stores. 

MURALE BOUTIQUE Exterior. Photo: Filmore Construction

Giant Tiger Breaks Ground on New Ottawa Headquarters and Flagship Store: Rapidly expanding value-priced retailer Giant Tiger has officially broken ground on its new Ottawa headquarters, which will also feature the retailer’s new flagship store location. 

The 173,800 square foot headquarters will be connected to a 31,000 square foot flagship store 2480 Walkley Road.The ground breaking takes place 10:00am on Wednesday, June 19. 

Ottawa-based Giant Tiger has over 250 locations in Canada and employs more than 8,500 people. At a time when other retailers are closing stores, Giant Tiger is seeing remarkable success as it continues to announce new locations nationwide. The company was founded in 1961 in Ottawa’s Byward Market area and stores carry categories such as family fashions, footwear, groceries, confectionary, pet food, cleaning supplies, housewares, stationery, toys, and health/beauty products.


Swiss Chalet Marks 65 Years in Canada: Canadian restaurant chain Swiss Chalet is marking 65 years in Canada. Remarkably, the company uses the same recipe for its grain fed/preservative free Canadian-made rotisserie chicken since 1954. Swiss Chalet, which is the second-largest full-service brand in Canada, is a division of Toronto-based conglomerate RECIPE Unlimited Corporation.  

To mark its anniversary, Swiss Chalet is launching some unique promotions. Included is a discounted price on the chain’s famed Quarter Chicken Dinner — on Sunday June 23, it can be purchased for $6.50 with a regular price being $10.99 and up. That includes purchases in a physical location as well as ordering on the web, telephone and through Swiss Chalet’s app. 

“Swiss Chalet is honoured to be celebrating its 65th anniversary with Canadians,” said Frank Hennessey CEO of Recipe Unlimited. “We couldn’t have reached this milestone without our loyal customers and wanted them to take part in this very special occasion. We’re inviting guests to Come Home to Swiss on June 23 to enjoy our quarter chicken special with our family and theirs!”

Last week, Swiss Chalet launched a campaign called ‘Come Home to Swiss’ where 65 entrants had a chance to win free Swiss Chalet for an entire year. The campaign asked participants to ‘share their heartwarming Swiss Chalet stories about the brand”.


New Lanterra Development to Feature Portobello Market-Inspired Retail: Toronto-based Lanterra Developments is launching a new condominium project at 4000 Eglinton Avenue in Etobicoke that will feature a retail podium inspired by the Portobello Market in London, UK. The project itself is being called the Notting Hill Condominiums. The project will be steps away from the future Eglinton West LRT line and is accessible to highways. 

Notting Hill will consist of two residential towers spanning 25 storeys, with more than 1,000 condominium units. Units in the project have sold out quickly — as of last week all of the bachelor units were spoken for, with a selection of one, two and three bedroom units remaining priced from the high $300,000’s to the mid $800,000’s. 

The retail spaces themselves, located on the ground floor of the development, will face the private road in the middle of the site as well as Eglinton Avenue. Inspired by one of London’s most iconic neighbourhoods, the mix of shops and food-and-beverage options aims to create a sense of community. 

“During a recent trip to London, we were inspired by the history and flavor of the fabled district and wanted to bring a piece of that to Toronto,” says Mark Mandelbaum, Chairman, Lanterra Developments. “Our vision for Notting Hill is to create a neighbourhood where engaging sky homes are anchored by shops and coffee houses, providing residents with a similar lifestyle found in this heralded London community.” 

Mr. Mandelbaum and Lanterra President/CEO Barry Fenton explained how the developer put retail at the forefront of the mixed use project rather than being a mandated amenity. What resulted is well thought-out commercial podiums with high ceilings and exceptional visibility, and the developer is targeting independent businesses to locate on-site. IBI Group is designing the project. 


Notable Chef Opens Eponymous Restaurant in Toronto’s Upscale Summerhill: After two decades at the iconic fine-dining restaurant North 44 in Toronto, Chef Sash Simpson is opening the doors to his first solo venture, Sash Restaurant + Wine Bar, in Toronto’s upscale Summerhill neighbourhood. Sourced with local ingredients, Simpson’s dishes will deliver inspired flavours for lunch and dinner and Sunday brunch which is soon to come. 

Having grown up in Toronto’s Forest Hill neighbourhood, Simpson says that he had always admired the neighbouring Summerhill area and believed that his vision for a unique and upscale dining destination would fit in with the area. Simpson’s dream has become a reality as he begins this new chapter in his eponymous space, located at the corner of Yonge Street. and Shaftesbury Avenue.

Simpson’s decades of experience crafting menus influenced the restaurant’s three menus, which incorporate elements of the standout dishes and ingredients that helped make his mark on Toronto’s culinary scene. Outstanding dinner items include his Three “Ways” Ahi Tuna, Charcuterie featuring Truffle Foie Gras Terrine and Duck Rillette and Chilean Seabass. The lunch offering includes fresh Canadian-sourced Seafood Platters, Truffle Foie Gras Torchon Brioche and Halibut/Chips, Simpson’s elevated take on Fish and Chips. These menus will be refreshed quarterly to incorporate seasonal ingredients. 

Sash Restaurant + Wine Bar is located at 1133 Yonge Street, open seven days a week. Valet and elevator accessibility are available. Reservations can be made at, Open Table bookings or by phone at 416-921-SASH. 


Tractor Foods Launches First-Ever ‘Tractor Digital’ Concept in Vancouver”: Last week Vancouver-based Tractor Everyday Healthy Foods launched its first ever ‘Tractor Digital’ concept on the concourse level in Park Place at 666 Burrard Street. The grab & go kitchen streamlines the online order process even further and eliminates customer line ups. 

A downloadable app prompts users to create an account where meals can be ordered and a desired pick-up time set. And there’s no formal dining area, as most of the 1,800 square foot space is occupied by a high-tech kitchen, with a small customer pick-up zone at the front. 

Tractor Everyday Healthy Foods aims to provide clean, healthy and delicious food, and the new ‘Tractor Digital’ is targeted towards those seeking convenience for those with busy schedules. Tractor partnered with Apply Digital to create a proprietary online order app. The technology increases the ordering window, according to the company, allowing the kitchen to service more customers in advance of people arriving in store.

The Tractor Digital menu is largely the same as the other six Tractor locations in the city, featuring close to a dozen fresh salads, various add-on proteins, soups, stews and sandwiches. Tractor Digital is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday 10 am to 7 pm.  


Frey Wille’s Only Store in North America Remains in Vancouver: Austrian luxury brand Frey Wille, known for its colourful enamel jewellery and silk scarves, has shuttered all of its standalone stores in the United States with its Vancouver storefront at 511 Howe Street being the only remaining location on the continent. 

Vancouver’s Frey Wille location opened in September of 2010 in a small retail space about a block north of Holt Renfrew’s Vancouver flagship. At the time it was expected that the stretch of Howe Street between Holt Renfrew and West Hastings Street would become a ‘luxury zone’ for retailers. Previous tenants in the immediate area included Alfred Dunhill and Hugo Boss. Cartier continues to operate at 456 Howe Street, though the store will be relocating to 755 Burrard Street later next year after Hermes relocates and the space is overhauled for Cartier. 

In the summer of 2014, the Frey Wille store experienced something bizarre — more than once, a cyclist vandalized the store’s doorway by using a miniature blow torch to shatter the glass. Nothing was stolen according to the store manager. 

Based in Vienna, Austria, Frey Wille was founded in 1951 and is known for its colourful designs based on the works of 19th and 20th century artists. The company has expanded from jewellery and scarves to include a line of watches as well as handbags, belts, ties, cuff links and pens. The company continues to operate stores with a focus on Europe, the Middle East and Asia, according to its website. 



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