BRIEF: Ashley HomeStore Quebec Shuttering, Ted Baker Opening Massive Yorkdale Storefront

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Ashley Furniture HomeStore Quebec Shuttering All Stores


All three of the remaining franchised Ashley Furniture HomeStore locations in the province of Quebec are in the process of being liquidated as the company is advertising a $20 million store closing sale. It follows the company’s filing for creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act in June of this year. Franchised Ashley HomeStores in other parts of Canada are unaffected by the announcement, and will remain operational as far as we’re aware. 

All of the Quebec Ashley Furniture HomeStores are all located in suburban Montreal. One location closed at the end of June at 6875 Rue Jean-Talon Est in St-Leonard. The other three locations are in the process of being liquidated, including units at 3615 Autoroute 440 Ouest in Laval, 1959 FX Sabourin in St-Hubert, 400 Rue Lamontage in St-Jerome. Staff at the Laval location confirmed to Retail Insider that the Laval and St-Hubert Ashley Furniture HomeStores will close towards the end of September, while the St-Jerome location will shutter in October. The Quebec franchise employed about 70 people, according to the company.  

The franchised Quebec locations are operated by Laval-based Groupe Opex, which is owned by Groupe Marchand. The company also shuttered a franchised store in Sherbrooke, Quebec, in 2014. The franchisee brought the Ashley Furniture HomeStore concept to the province of Quebec in 2007. 

In a now-deleted French language post to social media, Ashley Furniture HomeStore Quebec said that the reason for the closure was a result of a difficult retail climate, with “many” businesses in Quebec facing daunting challenges, according to the post. At the time of the post in June, the three other Ashley Furniture HomeStores were expected to remain open as the franchisee looked to restructure its operations, though the company now confirms that all units will be shuttered in the fall. 

Ashley Furniture HomeStore locations can be found across Canada, and all are operated by different franchisees. In July of 2015, Retail Insider reported that Winnipeg-based Dufresne Group was planning to open as many as 16 Ashley HomeStore locations in Ontario and Alberta. Ashley HomeStore operates more than 700 showrooms globally with billons of dollars in annual sales. 

Earlier this month, we reported that Quebec-based Maison Ethier was liquidating its two stores in suburban Montreal after also filing for CCAA protection. Last year, as well, we reported that home furnishings retailer Pier 1 Imports was exiting its Quebec operations entirely. While it’s bad news for some brands, others are expanding. Last month Retail Insider reported that Montreal-based furniture retailer Bois & Cuir is planning to expand from five locations to as many as 15 across Canada by the end of 2020, and it recently opened an impressive 7,500 square foot flagship in Montreal. As a comparison, Ashley Furniture HomeStores often span more than triple that size. 

Ted Baker to Open Large Yorkdale Flagship

Ted Baker Yorkdale (Image: Craig Patterson)

Popular mid-priced UK fashion brand Ted Baker is building a large new store at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre, which could become its second-largest storefront in North America when open. Ted Baker will replace the North Face, which exited its Yorkdale space several months ago. 


According to construction plans, the new Ted Baker will span about 4,320 square feet in Yorkdale’s 2012 expansion wing that includes an expanded Holt Renfrew anchor store as well as Apple and Microsoft. Landlord, Oxford Properties, is positioning the wing for new luxury retailers — Valentino and Bottega Veneta opened nearby several months ago, and Hugo Boss has opened its Canadian flagship across from the new Ted Baker. Two more luxury brands will soon be announced for spaces nearby. 

Yorkdale became home to Ted Baker’s first store in Canada in October of 2012, when it opened in a 3,230 square foot space. Ted Baker currently operates nine standalone stores in Canada in markets including Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, suburban Montreal and Ottawa. Two are considered to be outlet stores. Ted Baker also operates shop-in-store leased concessions at Hudson’s Bay stores in downtown Vancouver and Toronto. The CF Toronto Eaton Centre location, which re-opened twice after flooding, is one of the company’s top-selling units anywhere.

Brokerage JLL represents Ted Baker in Canada under the direction of Dianne Lemm, who also negotiated the Yorkdale lease deal. 

The Ted Baker brand, which is headquartered in London UK, was founded in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1987. Originally a men’s brand, Ted Baker’s women’s line launched in 1995. The brand operates nearly 500 stores globally and has expanded extensively in the United States over the past several years, both with standalone units as well as shop-in-store concessions in many Bloomingdale’s stores. Ted Baker’s largest standalone storefront in North America is on 5th Avenue in New York City, and spans about 7,000 square feet. 

Uniqlo Announces Edmonton Opening Date

Uniqlo West Edmonton Mall (PHOTO: JOHN KERBY)

Popular Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo will enter the Alberta market this fall when it opens a storefront on September 27 at the popular West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton.

Uniqlo will locate in a second-level retail space at West Edmonton Mall spanning just over 17,000 square feet with about 15,000 square feet of retail space that will overlook the mall’s indoor skating rink called the ‘Mayfield Toyota Ice Palace’. Uniqlo will occupy three retail spaces formerly occupied by Murale, Laura and Browns Shoes — Laura relocated in the mall, Browns Shoes will replace a vacated Williams Sonoma space, and the Murale concept, owned by Shoppers Drug Mart, is being phased-out.

The Edmonton Uniqlo store will carry product tailored to the chilly northern Alberta climate, including plenty of thermal products and jackets. And while the store won’t include a full UT t-shirt shop like the one which recently was unveiled at Uniqlo’s CF Toronto Eaton Centre location, the Edmonton unit will include various limited-edition t-shirt offerings.

Jeff Berkowitz of brokerage Aurora Realty Consultants is handling Uniqlo’s search for retail space in Canada.

The store is the first in Canada for Uniqlo outside of the Toronto and Vancouver markets, kicking off the brand’s national expansion that could eventually see as many as 100 stores in the coming years. Uniqlo has been posting jobs for a new Montreal storefront, and the Alberta expansion is expected to include an announcement for Calgary, though the company wouldn’t confirm any new locations to Retail Insider in a telephone conversation last week.

Mattress-in-a-Box Sleep Brand Casper Opens Calgary Showroom


New York City-based Casper is in the process of opening showrooms across Canada after opening its first retail space last year. Earlier this month, Casper unveiled a 2,200 square foot showroom space at Calgary’s CF Chinook Centre, which is the company’s fourth location with more to come. 

The Calgary Casper showroom is located on the main level of CF Chinook Centre near the entrance to the mall’s Nordstrom anchor store. A large Microsoft store is located next door and retailers Birks and Tumi are located across the way. Alberta’s only Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom stores are also in the mall, and Louis Vuitton opened a standalone store in the centre last year as CF Chinook Centre continues to go more upscale. 

Casper opened its first Canadian location in the spring of 2018 at Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens. That was followed by its Canadian flagship at 342 Queen Street West in Toronto, which also houses the brand’s Canadian headquarters. Casper recently announced that a Canadian manufacturing facility is now producing mattresses for the local market. In the spring, Casper opened a 2,900 square foot showroom in Vancouver’s Kitsilano area. Construction hoarding is now up at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre for a new Casper showroom, and the brand is also said to be targeting the Quebec Market for at least one storefront. 

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. 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. 

Montreal-Based Fashion Brand Frank And Oak Launches Sustainable Denim Line


Last week Frank And Oak launched a new sustainable denim line called Circular denim™, which involves using a new waste-reducing production method in the brand’s denim assortment that incorporates recycled denim fabrics. Frank And Oak launched eight styles for men and women, and the line’s goal is to create a “circular product lifecycle” utilizing a sustainable production process that brings old jeans back to life by utilizing post-consumer waste. The goal is to reduce waste that ends up in landfills.

Scraps of denim are used to create new durable denim fabrics, using a four step process: ‘Collect, Cut, Combine, and Create’. Landfill-bound worn-out denim jeans are collected and redirected to a fabric recycler, where the post-consumer waste denim is disintegrated into fibres while impurities are removed. Recycled fibres are then mixed alongside new fibres to ensure structural integrity and durability, creating a new denim fabric.

Circular denim™ joins Frank And Oak’s sustainable denim assortment, and is now available in three of the brand’s existing fits. For men, that includes the slim/straight fit ‘Dylan’ lines as well as the skinny/narrow fit ‘Tyler’ line, both  available in a variety of washes. For women, the wide-legged/high-rise fit ‘Nina’ line is now made with Circular denim™ and is available in five washes. 

The Circular denim™ line was developed as part of the ‘Frank And Oak Responsible Denim Lab’, which also introduced Frank And Oak Hydroless denim and other lines. Frank And Oak co-founder and CEO Ethan Song, who was at a launch event last week at CF Toronto Eaton Centre, explained that the company would be launching more eco-friendly innovations as the brand looks to reduce waste and be better for the environment. The recently-opened dual-gender CF Toronto Eaton Centre Frank And Oak Store, which spans about 3,000 square feet on one level, replaces a former M0851 storefront. In keeping with the eco-ethos, the store’s interior saw minimal renovations from the previous space, save for new dressing rooms and fixtures for Frank And Oak’s product. Given that almost 54 million people pass through CF Toronto Eaton Centre annually, the space is as much a brand awareness initiative as it is a retail space. 

Frank And Oak was founded in 2012 in Montreal as an online men’s brand and began opening stores in 2014. The brand became known initially for its subscription service where for a cost, shipments of clothing would arrive in the mail for customers. The company now has 22 stores across Canada as well as hundreds of thousands of online members. 

Square One shopping centre in Mississauga hosted another first at a shopping centre

the Eid ul Adha Market presented by Muslim Market Co. which was held from August 8 to 11.  This was the the 2nd market organized by Sudduf Wyne at Square One, who also did the Ramadan Market in April. 

The Eid ul Adha Market showcased top Islamic lifestyle brands, complimentary henna, complimentary cotton candy, and a hajj passport activity for kids to learn more about the holy pilgrimage.  Another unique feature was a community gift exchange where people can drop off a gift and take a gift to promote sharing and community.  The black and gold theme is inspired by the Kaaba, and highlighted in the vendor tables, floral décor and displays. 

More information can be found in this website:

‘Baby Gourmet’ Donates $150,000 Worth of Consumable Goods to School-Age Children in Calgary and Toronto


Last week, organic baby food brand Baby Gourmet donated a whopping 161,000 organic fruit and vegetable pouches, called ‘Slammers Snacks’, to school-aged children through the Calgary Food Bank, Toronto’s Salvation Army, and Daily Bread Food Bank.

It’s part of Baby Gourmet’s “Heart of Baby Gourmet” social good program, in an effort to fight food insecurity. According to Food Banks Canada, 13% of Canadians live in a state of food insecurity and do not have reliable access to adequate amounts of safe, nutritious food. Last week’s donation marks one of the largest donations to date for the company’s “Heart of Baby Gourmet” initiative. 

Baby Gourmet, which was founded in 2005, has given away more than 500,000 meals to organizations in need across Canada. The social good initiative launched earlier this year. The goal, according to Baby Gourmet’s co-founder Jen Carlson, is to make the brand’s organic food accessible to everyone. The company plans to donate in excess of one million meals by 2025. 

Baby Gourmet is distributed across Canada in a variety of retailers, including hundreds of Shoppers Drug Mart and Rexall locations. It is also carried in speciality retailers. The company was founded in Calgary 2005 by entrepreneurs Jennifer Carlson and Jill Vos. The company was first in Canada to launch baby food pouches in 2010 and in 2013, the company launched baby cereals. The company became the largest organic baby food retailer in Canada in 2012. 

Student-Founded Cannabis Accessory Business Surpasses $1 Million on crowdsourced campaign


Following the legalization of cannabis in Canada, last year, four University of Alberta grads saw the need for aesthetically pleasing and functional cannabis accessories. They launched a company called BRNT Designs and its recent crowdsourced campaign surpassed $1 million in revenue. 

BRNT’s products are said to be functional and also eye-catching — the company says that the attractive design means that its products can also be used as home decor. The ceramic design is freezer-safe and the cooling effect is said to be softer on the lungs when used for smoking. 

Prices range from $30 for a glassware set to $180 for a handmade ceramic water pipe called ‘Hexagon’. The product’s positioning is decidedly upscale with both its prices and design. Other designs include a concrete storage jar called ‘Malua’, a concrete ashtray named ‘Briq’, a walnut rolling tray called ‘Yaketa’, among others. 

The campaign was hosted independently on BRNT’s site due to Kickstarter’s restrictions on cannabis paraphernalia. The campaign launched in November 2017 and ran until the end of the year. Over $24,000 was raised in Hexagon pre-orders across both Canada and the world. Fun fact: a number of pre-orders were made from places like Luxembourg, Australia, South Africa, and the USA. As of October 2018 when cannabis was officially legalized in Canada, BRNT products were sold in 30 stores across Canada. 

Co-founders Simon Grigenas, Paige Hodgins, and Andrew Feltham began their studies at the University of Alberta in 2015. Grigenas and Hodgins attended the Alberta School of Business while Andrew majored in Engineering. After BRNT’s rapid success in the cannabis industry, they began working full-time on expanding the business in the Fall of 2018.

The University of Alberta, located in Edmonton, has seen the launch of numerous businesses both by students and staff. It’s also home to the University of Alberta School of Retailing, which encourages students to see the retail industry as a viable career choice though various student-led initiatives as well as business-related curriculum. 

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Publisher & 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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