Canadian Optical Retailer BonLook Exits BC and Alberta Markets as it Shuts 11 Stores [Interview]


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Just over a year after being acquired by FYidoctors, Montreal-based brand BonLook has closed a number of its stores, Retail Insider has learned.

BonLook closed the following 11 stores, out of 35, as of February 22:

  • CF Chinook Centre, Calgary;
  • CF Fairview Mall, Toronto;
  • CF Market Mall, Calgary;
  • CF Masonville Place, London;
  • CF Pacific Centre, downtown Vancouver;
  • CF Polo Park, Winnipeg;
  • CF Richmond Centre, Richmond;
  • Kingsway Mall, Edmonton;
  • Guildford Town Centre, Surrey;
  • Vaughan Mills, Vaughan; and
  • Centre Eaton de Montreal in downtown Montreal

In a statement, the company said following the closures, BonLook will have 24 stores in Ontario and Quebec and will be available online and in select FYidoctors locations as a shop-in-shop.

“As you know, the pandemic and overall economic environment significantly reduced in-store foot traffic in retail mall locations. We have taken this difficult decision to focus on our core markets where we have a strong brand recognition and plan to continue to grow the BonLook brand,” said Louis-Felix Boulanger, BonLook cofounder and VP IT Strategy and Integration, FYihealth Group.

 “The BonLook brand will continue to thrive. We remain focused on serving our customers by directly connecting those affected by this change to an FYidoctors clinic close to their BonLook location to provide future sales and ongoing support for purchases already made. We will also continue offering unparalleled online services for all our current and new customers. The brand will remain available online and through FYidoctors clinics offering an assortment of selected frames and fitting services.

Louis-Felix Boulanger

“The company will continue to develop stylish collections that will allow our customers to have prescription frames and lenses at an exceptional value. The company remains committed to building the BonLook brand with the emphasis on both the experience and product focused on the Millennial and Generation Z.  To that end, we will: strengthen our execution of the BonLook store-in-store concept at FYidoctors locations with an initial emphasis in the West; ensure to keep our collections fresh, stylish, on-trend; and, support and grow our physical presence in Quebec and Ontario, where our brand has strong momentum.” Closing notice for Guildford Town Centre in Surrey.

In November 2021, FYidoctors, Canada’s leading diversified healthcare organization, announced it had acquired BonLook, famous for its trendy styles and technology-driven approach to eyewear, boosting the FYidoctors portfolio with new opportunities to expand the brand nationally and beyond.

BonLook, which has been around since 2011, had 36 stores across five provinces.

At the time, Dr. Alan Ulsifer, Chair and CEO of FYidoctors with Calgary as its main head office, said BonLook strengthens the company’s overall portfolio with a brand that stands apart with a modern consumer offering. 

George Minakakis, Principal of Inception Retail Group, a former Country Manager and CEO with Luxottica and author of The New Bricks & Mortar Future Proofing Retail, said it hasn’t been quite a year and half since FYidoctors acquired BonLook’s 36 stores and he always thought that BonLook could be a good retail fighter brand against Specsavers’ entry.

George Minakakis

“Closing almost a third of them seems like more than just rationalizing a store count. BonLook was likely sold for a premium valuation when it was up for sale. Not being sure of the acquisition price, closing that many stores so early after being acquired can only mean under performance of Bonlook or that these locations are too close to FYidoctors locations and you may be fighting for the same customers. I believe this would still be considered an asset impairment,” he said.

“The eyecare landscape is about to become extremely competitive with the addition of Specsavers securing locations across Canada in many major shopping locations. I am already seeing a number of locations being readied for development. Based on what I had seen in Australia, not a market that dissimilar to that here in Canada, they were able to capture 40 per cent of market share. 

“At the end of the day remaining competitive here is about having the right brand with the right leadership and strategies to compete with. The mistake most will make is the belief that they can retain customers and patients. It will not be that easy, especially with this market economy.  When you add in Specsavers marketing power, it will be an interesting time in this retail space.” 

Image: BonLook
BonLook at CF Richmond Centre. Photo: Geetanjali Sharma

At the time of the announcement by FYidoctors of its BonLook acquisition, Ulsifer said: “We’re here to support BonLook’s growth and to continue offering unparalleled service to existing and new customers while creating business conditions for even more innovation to offer more quality products and superior services.

“We’re going to keep the brand the same. It is a different kind of customer segment. So their brand is very appealing to the Millennial, Gen Z group of people that want more convenience, they want affordable fashion, they’re not so caught up in runway brands, but they like what a brand stands for. It is a different customer segment that is more attractive to that segment than more traditional optical, or traditional eyecare.”

BonLook, a pioneer in the online sale of branded prescription eyewear was founded by Sophie Boulanger and her brother Louis-Félix Boulanger. It began as an online business and then it started opening stores about seven years ago.

“We saw an immediate upside for our brand and company when we analyzed synergies between our organizations. BonLook’s entry into the FYidoctors family will provide the company and its employees with new strategic opportunities in this high growth market. Becoming a part of the FYi team ushers in a new chapter for us and it brings exciting growth, access to resources, and the opportunity to learn from their award-winning culture,” said Sophie Boulanger when the acquisition was announced.

“The BonLook brand stays alive – alive and stronger than ever. Actually the partnership is meant to give us a bit of jet fuel to actually accelerate our growth. So we’re keeping the banner as it is, we’re keeping the BonLook team in place, we’re keeping the brand, we’re keeping all of our design capabilities and our head office here in Montreal.

“The idea of joining the FYi group is really to join forces and gives us the means to our ambitions to grow and double the footprint of the brand in the next two years.”

BonLook Closure Notices

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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