Aussie Optical Retailer Oscar Wylee Enters Canada: Q&A

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Australian eyewear retailer Oscar Wylee recently entered the Canadian market with multiple stores and more are planned. Retail Insider supplied questions to Oscar Wylee’s head office in Sydney. 

The retailer was founded in 2012 and has over 100 stores and over 800 team members across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Its first store opened in September of 2021 at West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton and Oscar Wylee opened its first Toronto store recently at CF Sherway Gardens. Other Canadian locations are in Halifax at the Halifax Shopping Centre and in Calgary at CF Chinook Centre and CF Market Mall.

Ishan Dessai, Marketing Manager at Oscar Wylee in Sydney answered a few of our questions about the Canadian expansion below: 

RI: Why did Oscar Wylee make the decision to expand into Canada with stores?  

OW: The plan for Oscar Wylee was always to grow and provide affordable eye exams and fashionable glasses to everyone. Canada was a natural next step, because just like Australia and New Zealand, it is also a multicultural country with a lot of similarities between the people and the value they place on quality eye care.

RI: Tell me about the new Toronto location, as well as the importance of the Toronto market to the brand?

OW: Our first Toronto store is in a beautiful location in CF Sherway Gardens – Etobicoke, just a 15 minute drive from the Toronto Central District making it very accessible to customers. The Toronto market is extremely important to the brand given that it is the economic hub of the country and also a city with high consumer spending. 

RI: Where will we see more Oscar Wylee stores open in Canada? What are the target cities/locations?  

OW: We currently have 5 stores across Canada with 3 in Alberta, 1 in Nova Scotia and 1 in Ontario and a potential 2nd store to come in Oshawa Centre. The plan at the moment is to establish these stores and build a foothold before expanding to the other provinces.

Oscar Wylee at CF Market Mall (Image: Oscar Wylee)

RI: What are global plans for the retailer’s expansion?

OW: The plan for us would be to expand and increase our presence in Australia, New Zealand and Canada with preparations for new store locations constantly underway. With comprehensive eye exams and affordable glasses, this will help make eye care accessible to a lot more people.

RI: How is Oscar Wylee looking to compete with Specsavers which recently entered Canada and is looking at opening 200 stores? How will Oscar Wylee compete with BonLook and other homegrown brands, as well as international entrants such as Warby Parker?

OW: Oscar Wylee competes with Specsavers and other similar brands in Australia and New Zealand and has managed to make a mark in the eyewear industry by providing quality glasses at affordable rates. Our ongoing price is 2 pairs from $199, including single vision prescription optical glasses, non-prescription sunglasses, or a mix of both. This along with the fact that we offer over 750 SKUs of stylish optical frames (with an option of Blue Light Filter) and sunglasses to choose from, distinguishes us from the rest. With a mix of classic, retro, bold contemporary silhouettes and a new collection released every month, there’s an Oscar Wylee frame for every face – and personality. 

Oscar Wylee at West Edmonton Mall (Image: Oscar Wylee)

RI: In terms of online competition, how will Oscar Wylee compete against similar retailers in Canada?

OW: At the moment, Oscar Wylee does not have an ecommerce option with the focus on the brick & mortar stores. Oscar Wylee’s modern optometry equipment, network of local optometrists and knowledgeable store teams will provide comprehensive eye exams, best in class service and unique products to the Canadian market.

We’ll continue to follow Oscar Wylee’s expansion into the Canadian market. Interested landlords can reach out to Tony Flanz of brokerage Think Retail which is handling and negotiating site selection for the retailer. Oscar Wylee is said to be looking at retail spaces in the 700 to 1,000 square foot range in shopping centres and on busy high streets near noteworthy fashion and general merchandise retailers. Markets targeted include British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. 

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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, former lawyer 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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