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France-Based Chocolatier Jeff de Bruges Continues Canadian Store Expansion with A-Mall Location

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French chocolatier and ice cream house Jeff de Bruges is in growth mode in Canada with a planned opening of a new location this spring at CF Carrefour Laval near Montreal.

Xavier Chambon

Xavier Chambon, who is a master franchisor for the brand, said the company has more than 500 stores in France and Europe and it started in Canada, in Quebec, in 2013.

“We have two locations and one more coming in CF Carrefour Laval and we hope to have more with at least three or four per year now,” he said.

Montreal stores currently include locations at the downtown Eaton Centre and a small kiosk at Carrefour Industrielle Alliance.

“We are focused first in shopping centres with premium locations. That’s what we are looking for,” he said. “We started in the Eaton Centre with a new concept and Industrielle Alliance is downtown also. The first franchisee for North America is in Canada and in Montreal which we are very proud.

“And of course with the pandemic period we had to redevelop the website. We are strong online also. We do a lot of pickup stuff. And now we are ready to grow.”

He said the brand will open its third store in June.

“We are very careful because the business model has to be of course very good for our franchisee. We are very careful about the location and the profitability of course of the concept. We are not in a rush because the group is very solid. The group has a lot of experience and we prefer doing not fast but doing well,” said Chambon.

Jeff de Bruges (Image: Maxime Frechette)

“All of our chocolates are coming from Europe, coming from Belgium. With less sugar. It’s premium. Very tasty. Also you can pick up and choose more than 70 different chocolates one piece at a time. You can build your box. It’s personalized, customized, and the shopping experience is important for us. You have to taste the product, we have to speak about the chocolate and where it is coming from. Regarding the price, we’re in the mid-range, not high end. Very affordable. It’s high quality, affordable price.”

According to Tony Flanz, of Think Retail which is working with the brand to find real estate for Jeff de Bruges, the latest store for the brand will take over 900 square feet of space vacated by Rocky Mountain Chocolate.

“The new store will showcase Jeff de Bruges’ signature industrial chic vibe, with elegant lighting and attractive displays set against a modern turquoise and chocolate-brown palette that’s echoed in all packaging,” says a blog on the Think Retail website.

“The plan is to open one or two more Quebec stores this year, with a particular interest in finding a location on Mont Royal. However, the company is open to both high streets and super regional malls. Ideal spaces are 600 to 1,000 sq. ft.

Image: Jeff de Bruges

“Jeff de Bruges is an ideal tenant with a strong legacy and proven ability to attract customers. The concept launched in Europe in 1986 and today there are more than 500 stores across France, as well as close to 40 international locations in 17 countries. While the chocolates are imported from Belgium, the ice cream is always locally sourced—here in Quebec, it’s Bilboque. The timing is ideal. As we emerge from pandemic-related lockdowns, Jeff de Bruges is the indulgent experience that people are craving.”

Philippe Jambon, Founder and President of Jeff de Bruges, in an interview on the brand’s website, said : “With passion, and from a very young age running around in the chocolate makers’ workshops, I was able to observe the magical effect of chocolate. Since then, when creating Jeff de Bruges, I have relentlessly imagined a thousand and one ways to turn our stores into unique places, gourmets’ worlds and delicious chocolate could also be accessible and fun to bring pleasure and quality to all.

“In our stores, we mainly try to be in touch with (customers’) needs, to bring back childhood memories of afternoon teas, to create little treats so that everyday can be joyful, in short, to offer recipes which can make for a happier life.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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