BRIEF: Quebec Retailer Bankrupt, Casper Enters Vancouver Market

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Acuitis Quebec Shuts Store as it Files for Bankruptcy: French optician and acoustics specialist Acuitis Quebec Inc. has closed its CF Carrefour Laval store in suburban Montreal after the company filed a Notice of Bankruptcy in the Superior Court of Bankruptcy and Insolvency. The Notice was filed on July 5. 

Raymond Chabot Inc. was appointed trustee of the estate of the bankrupt Acuitis Quebec Inc., according to documents, “subject to affirmation by the creditors of the trustee’s appointment or substitution of another trustee by the creditors”. 

The first meeting of the creditors of Acuitis Quebec Inc., will be held at 2:00pm on Friday, July 19 at the trustee’s office at 600 de La Gauchetiere St. W., suite 2000, in Montreal. Creditors must file proof of claim to vote at the meeting and where necessary, a proxy. 

Raymond Chabot Inc. provided a full list of creditors with claims amounting to $25 or more and creditors must prove their claim against the estate of the bankrupt to share in the proceeds realized from the estate. Debts appear to be in the amount of $854,675.34, according to documents. Acuitis France is owed $152,831.94 and the Development Bank of Canada is owed $133,125, according to the filing. Much of the other debt is held by Desjardins, exceeding $400,000. Acuitis Quebec Inc. also owes landlord Cadillac Fairview $20,000. 

Acuitis entered the Canadian market in late 2017 when it opened the 3,226 square foot flagship in Laval. The store featured eyewear and hearing aid services. A second location opened CF Promenades Saint-Bruno in suburban Montreal, and that unit was open when Retail Insider called the store on Thursday. Sales staff was not aware of any immediate plans to close that location. 

Family-owned Acuitis was founded in France in 2010 by father-son team Daniel and Jonathan Abbitan, with a goal of offering quality, affordably accessible eye and hearing care while also providing personalized, customer-centric service. Acuitis offers an ‘all inclusive’ service for its eyewear including eye examinations, mounting, lenses and any required adjustments. Glasses are often ready within an hour, with prices ranging from $120 to $550. Local Opticians Sevan KechichianRémi Xhenseval and Juliette Fournier-Lemaire were behind the opening of the CF Carrefour Laval Acuitis, according to an article by Maxime Frechette published in Retail Insider in October of 2017.

JLL’S NEW SENIOR VICE PRESIDENTS BRANDON GORMAN (L) AND GRAHAM SMITH (R)

JLL Expands Retail Team with New Additions: Professional services firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) announced this week that it has hired Brandon Gorman and Graham Smith as the brokerage rapidly expands its operations into the Canadian market after acquiring Toronto-based Northwest Atlantic last year. Mr. Gorman and Mr. Smith have jointed JLL as Senior Vice Presidents, and both were formerly with Cushman & Wakefield. Both gentlemen will report to Tim Sanderson, Executive Vice President and National Practice Lead of JLL’s Retail division in Canada.

Mr. Gorman and Mr. Smith each bring over a decade of urban retail experience to JLL’s Retail team and are widely regarded as two of Toronto’s top retail leasing professionals. Over their career, they have been trusted advisors to Canada’s top retailers and have developed meaningful relationships with developers and institutional landlords across the country.

Over the past year since acquiring Northwest Atlantic, JLL has grown its retail team to over 50 retail professionals and increased its tenant mandate to over 200 premium retailers. In 2018, the team completed 1,300 transactions, totalling 1,400,000 square feet. More hiring announcements are expected as JLL rapidly grows its operations in Canada. 

West Vancouver’s Park Royal Adds New Retailers As it Achieves Record Productivity: The unique Park Royal Shopping Centre in West Vancouver recently added new storefronts for Aussie eyewear brand Bailey Nelson, as well as a relocation for casual US-based fashion brand Tommy Bahama. Park Royal, which is one of the top shopping centres in the Vancouver area, has also achieved annual sales per square foot exceeding $1,000, making it one of Canada’s most productive shopping centres.

An 11-screen Cineplex theatre opened in the spring including four VIP cinemas, which has resulted in increased foot traffic to the centre. Other recently opened retailers include Vancouver-based Hills Dry Goods, PetSmart, and a third Starbucks location. Taiwaneese women’s fashion brand Douchanglee opened last year, as well as The Shoe Company which expanded and relocated. 

The centre is almost 100% leased and continues to see increased footfall and productivity after landlord Larco recently invested more than $150-million to upgrade the property. Construction is underway for the ‘Gateway Residences Park Royal’ which will include more than 200 rental residential units as well as 29,000 square feet of commercial, daycare and public plaza, set to open in 2021. 

Park Royal, located at the foot of the Lions Gate Bridge, opened in the fall of 1950 and was Canada’s first department store-anchored shopping centre. Woodward’s was the anchor and it’s space was taken over in the early 1990’s by Hudson’s Bay after Woodward’s bankruptcy and subsequent acquisition. The centre spans almost 1.5 million square feet and has more than 225 shops, restaurants and services. It’s home to La Maison Simons’ only location in British Columbia

Retail Council of Canada is collecting data for its 2019 Canadian Shopping Centre Study, which will be released later this year. Retail Insider’s Craig Patterson authors the study. For sponsorship enquiries, email Craig at: cpatterson@retailcouncil.org

Casper Opens 1st Vancouver Storefront: New York City-based sleep brand Casper, which has been expanding its Canadian operations by opening showrooms as well as a flagship/headquarters, opened its first Vancouver showroom on Thursday in the city’s Kitsilano area. It is the third Casper location in Canada after two storefronts opened in Toronto last year, and more are confirmed to be on the way. 

The Vancouver Casper showroom is located at 2294 W. 4th Avenue in a 2,877 square foot building that was listed by Barb Burrows of Macdonald Commercial Real Estate Services Ltd. Ms. Burrows represented the landlord, and Mario Negris and Martin Moriarty of CBRE acted on behalf of Casper in the deal. 

Casper opened its first Canadian location in the spring of 2018 at Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens, which was followed by its Canadian flagship at 342 Queen Street West in Toronto, which also houses the brand’s Canadian headquarters. Casper’s Canadian manufacturing facility is now producing mattresses for the local market. 

Casper’s showrooms feature several ‘nap houses’ displaying the brand’s range of products that include mattresses-in-a box as well as pillows, bed sheets, bed frames, bedside tables and pet items. 

In Canada, there are plans to roll-out more locations in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec, as well as more in the Ontario market. Construction hoarding is now up for a location at CF Chinook Centre in Calgary in a 2,200 square foot space on the mall’s main level near Nordstrom. A Toronto location at Yorkdale Shopping Centre is also under construction set to open this winter, spanning more than 2,400 square feet, across from the mall’s Dyson store

Casper was founded in New York City in 2014 as a direct-to-consumer online retailer and has celebrity backers including Leonardo DiCaprioTobey MaguireAdam Levine and Ashton Kutcher. The company boasts sales in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually. 

Amazon ‘Prime Day’ Sees Success in Canada: Amazon held its Amazon Prime Day this week for a 48-hour time period on July 15 and 16, and it was the largest shipping event in Amazon’s history both in Canada as well as in the United States. According to Criteo, statistics pulled pertaining to the event saw an overall increase in sales of about 24% on July 15 and a 25% increase in sales on July 16 from the norm, which was similar to that seen in the United States. Web traffic was also up significantly over the two-day event and even before, as shoppers appeared to be looking at products prior to them being discounted. 

Amazon Prime Day is available to those with Prime Memberships, which continue to be $79 annually in Canada, or $7.99 per month. Perks include free shipping on many items as well as a range of premium services otherwise not available to non-members. In the United States, Amazon Prime costs $119 annually or $12.99 per month in US dollars, which means Canadians are paying a lot less for Amazon Prime at the moment. Amazon says that it saw more new Prime members on July 15 than any previous day, and almost as many on July 16. That means this year’s event was a promotional success, being the two biggest days ever for member signups.

In total, the 48-hour event saw more than 175-million items sold globally in 18 countries. In Canada, some of the top categories that Prime members shopped for included Beauty, Home and Fashion. The top-selling products in Canada were:

  • PlayStation 4 Slim with Spiderman and Horizon Zero Dawn
  • LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
  • 23andMe Health + Ancestry kits

As well, Prime Day was the largest event ever for Amazon devices, when comparing two-day periods. In Canada the top-selling device deals were:

  • Echo Dot
  • Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote
  • Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote

Prime Day was the biggest event ever for Alexa devices with screens, such as Echo Show and Echo Show 5. It was also the best Prime Day ever for fire tablets. 

Amazon Prime Day is clearly a successful event and we expect to see continued growth next year. At the same time, Amazon might want to look into the rampant increase in counterfeit goods on its website. After China cracked down on counterfeits on websites such as iOffer, we’ve noticed even more being available from overseas vendors on Amazon.ca. Try entering “Louis Vuitton” into the search bar, for example, and a few of the first things to pop up include an LV monogram belt selling for $14.85 and a Pochette Metis Monogram handbag asking $104.98 — and with free shipping to boot. 

Whole Foods Marks 20 Years of Sustainable Seafood in Canada: The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is marking 20 years of partnership with its longest standing retail partner in North America, Whole Foods Market. In 1999, Whole Foods Market became the first retailer in North America to introduce credible, certified sustainable seafood as a concept to consumers by sourcing and selling MSC certified wild seafood with the MSC blue fish logo. Today, 14 stores in Canada (and over 475 stores in the US) offer consumers certified sustainable seafood choices that deliver positive impacts on the water. 

Whole Foods

Recent findings by research consultancy GlobeScan found that 83% of Canadian seafood consumers agree that fish and seafood must be protected for future generations. 

Throughout the summer, Whole Foods Market and the MSC will celebrate the positive change this partnership has delivered and educate consumers on how their purchase of MSC certified sustainable seafood can have a measurable impact on ocean and fishery health.  Customers can learn more via signage at Whole Foods Market stores across Canada and at Brewery and the Beast events in Vancouver and Victoria.

One example of the change effected by Whole Foods Market on sustainable seafood is with Patagonian toothfish, also known as Chilean seabass. In 1999, fish stocks were edging towards collapse due to overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated catch. Whole Foods Market took a stance and delisted toothfish, and four years later, the local government of South Georgia and environmental organizations responded, working together to implement major improvements that would ensure the long-term sustainability of toothfish.

By 2004 the fishery was able to achieve third-party MSC certification demonstrating at a global level that it is sustainable and well-managed. Two years later, Whole Foods Market once again led the charge, becoming the first North American retailer to bring toothfish back to consumers, this time only selling it as MSC certified sustainable with the MSC blue fish label as a signal that it comes from a responsible, well-managed fishery. Today, stock health is on the rise, fishing of Patagonian toothfish is at its lowest in recorded history and well over 50% of global toothfish fisheries are MSC certified as sustainable.

Ossington Avenue to Host Annual Street Party: One of the coolest streets in Canada is hosting a street party on July 27, called OssFest 2019. The party was created and hosted by the not-for-profit Ossington BIA. This year will be the fourth year of this annual event. Everyone is welcome and the street will be fully pedestrianized between Queen Street West and Dundas Street West. 

Highlights will include: 

  • Meditation and yoga in the streets starting at 9am-10:30am
  • Live music stage featuring indie bands and artists from 2pm until 11pm
  • Over 20 patios featuring drinks and eats from some of Toronto’s best and most notable restaurants 11am to 1am
  • Great sales and promotions from the retailers of the Ossington Strip from 11am-7pm
  • Wrestlers in the streets starting at 3pm
  • Visit the one day pop-up Fire museum and historic fire truck from 11am-7pm

The Ossington BIA represents over 100 businesses with efforts of community building, streetscape improvement, advocacy on local issues and creating a thriving economic landscape for the member businesses. 

Ossington Avenue is home to the only Canadian location for smart glasses brand ‘Focals by North’, located at 113 Ossington Avenue. Retail Insider’s Craig Patterson got his pair last week and has been trying out the various features. He’ll be posting on his personal Instagram, handle: @craig_patterson_toronto 

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