Los Angeles-based fast fashion retailer Forever 21 is making its return to Canada this spring with physical stores after shuttering all locations as part of a bankruptcy filing in 2019. Canadian stores began quietly opening last week and Retail Insider’s Lee Rivett took several photos of the new Forever 21 store at Guildford Town Centre in Surrey near Vancouver.
Toronto-based YM Inc. is leading the Forever 21 expansion after establishing a partnership last year that included announcing a new Forever 21 e-commerce site for the Canadian market that launched in early 2020. YM Inc. acquired many of Forever 21’s leases after the retailer exited Canada, and subsequently opened stores under various banners in the former Forever 21 locations including Urban Planet, Urban Behaviour and Stitches.
Many of the Forever 21 stores saw few changes to the retail spaces following the shuttering of the original chain. Some of the former Forever 21 locations are being converted back to the original banner as the brand again re-enters Canada.
At Guildford Town Centre in Surrey, Forever 21 recently opened a bright new store in a space that was most recently occupied by YM-owned ‘Thriftys by Bluenotes’. The Forever 21 store spans about 22,400 square feet according to mall lease plans. The store’s design is similar to the former Forever 21 stores that once operated throughout Canada.
Has anyone figured out how Forever21 apparently became un-bankrupt in the middle of the pandemic? pic.twitter.com/9wymsX513q— Srushti Gangdev (@SrushtiGangdev) April 11, 2021
The Canadian Forever 21 website has not yet been updated to include newly opened physical store locations. Several Forever 21 stores have opened this month including at Metropolis at Metrotown near Vancouver. That store spans two levels including 6,600 square feet on the mall’s main level and 18,200 square feet on the lower level.
At the Kingsway Mall in Edmonton, Forever 21 recently opened a new two-level storefront in the same space where Forever 21 once operated. The 13,400 square foot space faces onto the mall’s food court.
A 17,400 square foot Forever 21 will open soon at Devonshire Mall in Windsor Ontario. The province is in lockdowns likely into June which means the store’s opening will be delayed.
In Quebec City this week, Forever 21 opened at Laurier Quebec and the mall’s website has not yet been updated with the location.
More Forever 21 locations for Canada will be coming and it’s not yet certain how many YM will open this year. Getting new shipments of product is said to be a challenge which means that the new store rollout may be delayed in some markets.
Sources told Retail Insider in the winter that YM had been in negotiations to lease the former 17,000 square foot Gap store space at 60 Bloor Street West (corner of Bay Street) in Toronto and the deal is said to have ultimately not been signed. Another major retailer is said to have secured the lease for that space.
Forever 21 closed all of its 44 Canadian stores in November of 2019 after its US-based parent company filed for bankruptcy. In total, about 900,000 square feet was vacated, with much of it being scooped up by YM Inc. as temporary leases for its own banners.
We’ll follow up on this story as Forever 21 continues to open stores across the country.