A fashion brand with an unusual name will be entering the Canadian market this year. UK-based FatFace will open an initial three store locations in Ontario, and more are planned as the brand becomes established in the country.
The company has over 200 stores in the UK, Ireland and the United States, and it’s now setting its sights on international expansion which includes Canada. The company was founded by friends Tim Slade and Jules Leaver in 1988. Inspired by the name of the black mountain ski run in Val d’Isère, La Face, FatFace was born.
The Canadian expansion will see FatFace’s first location open in April in the quaint community of Niagara-on-the-Lake near Niagara Falls. The store will be in a historic building at 65 Queen Street, and it’s unusual for such a small community to see a first-to-Canada store location for an international brand.
Other confirmed FatFace stores to open in Canada will include locations at Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket near Toronto, as well as at Georgian Mall in Barrie, Ontario.
According to a recent article in the Daily Mail, one of the reasons FatFace is expanding into Canada is because some Canadians were traveling to the United States and buying the brand. FatFace thus identified that there was a brand awareness in Canada and made the decision to open standalone stores. The same article says that a total of six FatFace locations will be opening in Canada over the next year or so, with that information coming from the retailer’s CEO.
Jennifer Bowyer of Aurora Realty Consultants represents FatFace in Canada and negotiated the three lease deals for the brand’s first stores. According to Aurora’s website, FatFace stores will ideally be in the 1,200 to 1,800 square foot range in tourist markets (such as Niagara-on-the-Lake) as well as high streets and shopping centres.
Given the tourism focus, locations could eventually open in places such as Banff, Alberta and Whistler, British Columbia (neither of these were confirmed by FatFace). And given that Barrie and Newmarket are places where FatFace is opening, it’s anyone’s guess where the next stores will be — typically many fashion brands launch in Canada through Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre and Aurora Realty Consultants has been very active in that centre in terms of placing first-to-market tenants.
FatFace has 24 stores in the United States where it’s also seeing an expansion. France, Germany, Spain and Italy are also possible targets for stores according to chief executive Will Crumbie in the Daily Mail article.
Product categories in FatFace stores include womenswear, menswear, children’s fashions, footwear and accessories.
The new head of Canadian Stores, Raylin Noble, has been with the company since 2004 in the UK. She’s helped to lead the company’s growth in various roles including being instrumental in expanding its operations into Ireland.
In 2020 ownership of the operating group transferred from Bridgepoint Capital to the group’s existing lenders, who, amongst others, include Alcentra, Goldman Sachs, HIG and Lloyds.
We’ll follow up on this story as FatFace enters the Canadian market with stores this spring.