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Gap-Owned Athleta Announces 5 More Canadian Stores to Open in 2022 [Interview]

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Athleta, part of San Francisco-based Gap Inc., is expanding into Canada with five new stores to open this year.

Recently, a location at Mapleview Centre, in Burlington, Ontario, opened in 4,260 square feet of space and it is the performance-lifestyle store’s third company-operated Canadian location.

Last year, Athleta expanded into Canada with the launch of e-commerce in August, followed by the opening of its first company-operated stores outside of the U.S. in September at Park Royal Shopping Centre in West Vancouver, and in November at Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto.

Athleta said it will open four additional stores this year at CF Chinook Centre, Calgary; CF Sherway Gardens, Etobicoke; West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton; and 1035 Robson Street, Vancouver.

Athleta Mapleview Centre (Image: Christine Lim)

“The addition of five new stores this year is an extension of our entry strategy and launch success. Athleta’s Canadian business is a key contributor to long-term growth, and we believe our store fleet growth strategy will get us there as we see Canadians return to in-store shopping,” said Jenelle Sheridan, VP and GM Athleta Canada.

Jenelle Sheridan

“We have learned a lot about the Canadian customer since launch – including where our online demand is coming from as well as what she is most interested in from our brand. We’ve leveraged these insights, combined with the 30+ years of experience our sister brands (Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic) have operating in the Canadian market, to help inform our location selection for these five new stores in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia.”

She said the four additional stores will open this Fall in Canada.

“We’re committed to growing our Canada business, including opening additional new stores in the market in 2023. We have a plan to expand our brand steadily throughout the country from coast to coast,” added Sheridan.

Athleta Mapleview Centre (Image: Christine Lim)

“We identified a strong product market fit for our brand in Canada – our differentiated product offering (both performance and performance lifestyle), inclusive range of sizing, commitment to sustainability – we are B Corp certified – and our focus on empowering women and girls really resonates with the Canadian consumer.  We saw a whitespace in the market that we could fill.”

Sheridan described Athleta as a purpose-driven brand with a powerful mission to empower women and girls to realize their limitless potential. Athleta stores highlight the brand’s versatile, on-trend performance lifestyle products as well as serve as a hub for community.

“Designed for women, by women, Athleta was built on the premise that what unites active women and girls is stronger than any obstacles in their way, and sport and fitness create confidence, courage and powerful bonds,” explained Sheridan, adding that women and girls of all ages are the retailer’s target customer and the company has versatile performance-lifestyle product for every aspect of her life. 

Athleta Mapleview Centre (Image: Christine Lim)

“Our performance lifestyle product is unlike anything else in the market.  We are offering beautiful, technical, conscious apparel for all aspects of her busy daily life – from the gym or trail, to running errands; from the office, to a night out.

“At the beginning and during the pandemic our customer was gravitating towards our studio and recover product styles – think products like tights, joggers. However, we have seen a real shift as she has started getting back out into her daily life and starting to travel. She is looking for versatile product that makes her feel polished but comfortable. This is why our performance lifestyle product is so unique – it provides the versatility she is looking for, with the comfort and functionality she doesn’t want to lose.”

Athleta was founded in 1998.

Athleta stores highlight the brand’s versatile, on-trend performance lifestyle products for women and girls.  The stores feature inclusive sizing in more than 200 styles ranging from XXS-2X, in-store styling appointments, free alterations, and wellness-focused community events.

Athleta on Robson Street (Image: JLL)

The company said its Canadian entry has made a strong first impression with consumers. In the first quarter of this year, the brand’s new customer acquisition goal exceeded expectations by over 40 per cent as brand awareness continued to rise with a combination of new product offerings, localized marketing and events with the launch of Alicia Keys and Simone Biles collections, and partnership with the Toronto Six Women’s professional hockey team. 

Athleta became a certified B Corp in 2018, joining more than 230 certified B Corp businesses operating in Canada. Today, 70 per cent of Athleta products are made with at least 30 per cent more sustainable materials like recycled polyester, recycled nylon, organic cotton, Tencel or Fair Trade.

Athleta apparel is available at its over 230 company-operated stores across the United States and Canada, through its catalog, and at Athleta.com.

Article Author

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 National Business Journalist with Retail Insider in addition to working on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Once again those of us in Montreal have to wait years for a store to open. I just hope that when they do open one it will be downtown and not in the Laval or West Island ‘boonies.

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