U.S.-based outdoor specialty retailer L.L.Bean has announced four more Canadian stores that will open in 2021 as the company ramps up its Canadian expansion into new markets. Each of the four stores will be firsts for the Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, and Halifax markets and indicates confidence in brick-and-mortar retail in Canada.
Business grew by 100% in 2020 according to L.L.Bean in a statement, prompting the continued Canadian store expansion despite the pandemic. Toronto-based Jaytex Group has the exclusive license for L.L.Bean stores and wholesale distribution in Canada. Privately-owned Jaytex was founded in 1978 and features a portfolio of private label and lifestyle brands licensed in Canada.
“Despite the hurdles that the pandemic presented, in 2020 we successfully opened three new L.L.Bean retail locations in Ontario and saw strong overall performance in the Canadian market,” said Howie Kastner, President of Jaytex Group. “This continued success speaks to the inherent love of the outdoors and eagerness for new adventures that Canadian customers share with the brand. We look forward to continuing to explore opportunities across Canada and support this growing customer base.”
“While 2020 posed many challenges to our business, including the temporary closure of all retail stores, we are committed to increasing our brick-and-mortar presence in order to serve more communities,” said L.L.Bean President and CEO, Stephen Smith. “We know that a record number of people reconnected with the outdoors amidst the pandemic, some for the first time, and we see these new habits remaining firmly in place going forward.”
The four new Canadian stores will open over the course of three months, with the first this summer.
A store at Victoria’s Mayfair Mall will open in August and it will be located on the south side of the mall near a large Aritzia store. Mayfair is considered to be the leading enclosed shopping centre property in the Victoria area and is anchored by a Hudson’s Bay department store. Other large retailers include Toys R Us, Indigo, and Sport Chek. The centre spans more than 500,000 square feet on one level and has over 100 stores within.
In September, L.L.Bean will open its first Calgary store at the Deerfoot Meadows shopping complex. Deerfoot Meadows is a 320,000-square-foot hybrid outdoor outlet concept with 45 tenants anchored by Nordstorm Rack and Atmosphere. Adjacent retailers include Ikea and a Walmart Supercentre. Deerfoot Meadows is also within close proximity to CF Chinook Centre which is considered to be the leading enclosed shopping centre property in the region.
Also in September, and previously discussed in Retail Insider, L.L.Bean will open its first store in Nova Scotia at Dartmouth Crossing in the Halifax area. Dartmouth Crossing is a massive big-box centre boasting Atlantic Canada’s only Ikea store as well as retailers including a combined Cabela’s/Bass Pro, Costco, Walmart, Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Homesense, Cineplex, Kent Home Improvement, Playdium, and a recently-opened Marriott Courtyard Hotel. The 511-acre development contains over 1.8 million square feet of gross leasable area.
In October of this year, L.L.Bean will open its first store in the Vancouver area at The Amazing Brentwood in Burnaby. The L.L.Bean store will be located in the outdoor ‘Town Centre Plaza’ with a rounded facade facing it. The Amazing Brentwood is a combined indoor-outdoor mixed-use retail complex that was made possible by overhauling the existing Brentwood Town Centre mall property with the addition of new commercial space and residential buildings. New tenants at The Amazing Brentwood include Sporting Life and Nike and other tenants to open include H&M/H&M Home, Adidas, JAC by Jacqueline Conoir, Suitsupply, and The Rec Room.
Brokerage Oberfeld Snowcap represents L.L.Bean in Canada for its expansion under the direction of Andrew Laudenbach. L.L.Bean stores are typically in the 13,000-to-15,000-square-foot range, with some being larger or smaller. The retailer has said that it plans to eventually operate 20 stores in the Canadian market. By October of this year, L.L.Bean will have already opened eight stores in Canada.
In partnership with Jaytex, L.L.Bean entered the Canadian market in 2018 with an e-commerce site as it developed wholesale partnerships with several prominent retailers including Hudson’s Bay, Sporting Life, and MEC. L.L.Bean’s first physical Canadian store opened in Oakville Place near Toronto in August of 2019. That was followed by stores in Barrie, Ontario at Georgian Mall (opened July 2020), Ottawa at the Ottawa Train Yards (opened August 2020), Vaughan Mills near Toronto (opened September 2020), and most recently, L.L.Bean’s first Toronto location opened at the CF Shops at Don Mills in October of 2020.
Each location features a unique store design and a curated assortment of footwear, apparel, and outdoor essentials informed by Canadian customer feedback.
Other major markets in Canada are also expected to see L.L.Bean stores including Edmonton, Winnipeg, and possibly the Montreal area depending on expansion plans. The southern Ontario market is expected to see more locations, given its population.
Family-run L.L.Bean was founded by Leon Leonwood Bean in 1911 when he developed the brand’s flagship product, the Maine Hunting Shoe, which combines rubber bottoms with leather uppers to ensure one’s feet remained dry while hunting. L.L.Bean was officially founded in 1912 and has been in business for nearly 110 years.
The company’s original Maine flagship complex has been open since 1917, spanning 220,000 square feet and is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For the first time in its history and due to the pandemic, the flagship has been operating on reduced hours and will again be a 24-hour store as of next month. The motivation behind L.L.Bean’s always-on hours was to accommodate visiting sportsmen who would drive all night and wanted an early start the following day.
In addition to the Maine flagship, L.L.Bean operates 54 stores across 19 states in the United States. The retailer opened its first international location in Tokyo, Japan in 1992 and manages 25 stores and outlets in that market.
This week L.L.Bean also announced that it would be opening three more stores in the US this year in Salem, New Hampshire, Millbury, Massachusetts, and Amherst, New York.