By Maxime Frechette
French chocolate and ice cream retailer Jeff de Bruges has opened its Canadian flagship at Montreal Eaton Centre, and is looking to continue opening stores as it gains brand awareness. De Bruges is known for its chocolate creations and other product categories that are imported from Belgium.
The retailer has been in Canada since 2013, after opening its first two stores in the Montreal area at Mail Champlain in Brossard and at Place Montreal Trust in the city’s downtown core. Both of these have since closed and have been replaced with a new concept. Now Jeff de Bruges of Canada company is once again expanding.
The expansion kicked off in the summer with a kiosk at the Carrefour Industrial Alliance in downtown Montreal, and was followed with a new shop that just opened inside the new expansion of the Montreal Eaton Center. Strategically located on the street level, the new shop spans nearly 700 square feet and brings with it De Bruges’s newest brand concept.
In an email interview, Jeff De Bruges’ founder Philippe Jambon explained how Jeff de Bruges’ brand awareness in France is very strong, being at 85%. In Quebec, building brand awareness will take time to develop, which means that securing the best retail locations will be critical. Mr. Jambon explained how studies have shown how Montreal Eaton Centre’s clientele differs from those at Carrefour Industrial Alliance — Montreal Eaton Centre is busier and has a more diverse shopper. Ultimately ‘triple A’ shopping centres will be be targeted both for in-line retail spaces as well as kiosks in select malls.
For the Quebec market, Jeff De Bruges partnered with ice cream brand Bilboquet for its frozen offerings. Jeff De Bruges is known for its high-quality chocolate creations that are giftable.
Jeff De Bruges joins downtown Montreal’s renewal, which includes the overhauled Montreal Eaton Centre that recently saw the opening of the impressive Time Out Market food hall. Other international brands either already open or soon to open there include Samsung, Foot locker – Kids Foot locker, Okaidi, Pandora, Sephora and Uniqlo, the latter which will open in the fall and will be the largest flagship in Canada for the Japanese retailer.
Jeff De Bruges launched in 1986 and began franchising in 1988, introduced ice cream into the mix in 1990 under the direction of Mr. Philippe Jambon. Jeff de Bruges sees revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually in its more than 500 locations across France with a mix of corporate and franchised stores.
Jeff de Bruges is working with brokerage Think Retail under the direction of Tony Flanz for its Canadian expansion. According to Think Retail, retail spaces for Jeff de Bruges will ideally be in the 700 square foot to 1,000 square foot range with a primary focus on super-regional malls, and smaller kiosks are also part of the expansion plan.