Upscale Italian brand Furla abruptly shut its Canadian stores last week in the middle of the day without any notice given to staff. The retailer opened its first of three locations in Canada prior to the pandemic and the Italian corporate entity is said to be responsible for the decision to exit the Canadian operations.
Furla, known primarily for its bags and accessories, opened a full-priced store at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre in the fall of 2019. Two outlet stores subsequently opened in Canada, including at the Toronto Premium Outlets near Toronto in the fall of 2020 and a Vancouver location at the McArthurGlen outlets in early 2022.
All three stores were shuttered abruptly and the locks changed on the afternoon of Thursday, August 31st — staff and management were not notified prior, according to a source that spoke to Retail Insider about the situation. Richter is the receiver handling the winding down of Furla.
Furla’s Canadian entry in 2019 was in partnership with Montreal-based Halcyon Brands. It’s said that Halcyon was not the decision maker for Furla’s abrupt store closures and exit from Canada, and that Italy had “made the call” to shutter operations.
Lockdowns during the pandemic are said to be partly to blame, with sales numbers at the Yorkdale Furla store being ‘steady’ but not having recovered since the pandemic. Sales at the Vancouver Furla location were said to be strong following its opening last year. Furla hadn’t yet set up a dedicated Canadian e-commerce site despite being in Canada for nearly four years although quite recently, it began offering shipping to Canada from its international website.
A lack of a dedicated marketing budget for Canada could also be to blame — Furla had some brand awareness in Canada and arguably, it could have been much better. The same lack of advertising dollars is said to be one of the reasons why UK-based luxury brand Mulberry pulled out of Canada by shutting its stores here during the pandemic.
A new CEO was recently hired at Furla, which could be another reason why a decision was made to exit Canada, according to a source.
One source said that Furla was making inroads into the Canadian market in terms of sales, and that its exit was “too soon”. The perception of the brand in Canada could have been influenced partly by what is seen in its US operations. In the US, Furla might be seen more as an ‘outlet brand’ given its real estate with all but two stores functioning as outlet stores. Furla operates just two full-priced US stores in New York City and at South Coast Plaza near Los Angeles.
In Canada, Furla products are still available online. A limited selection is also available wholesale at La Maison Simons in Montreal and Mississauga.
Years ago, Furla operated licensed stores in Canada, including a storefront at 41 Avenue Road (south of the former Hazelton Lanes) in Toronto as well as at 1008 West Georgia Street in Vancouver where an Hermes flagship store is now located.
Furla was founded by the Furlanetto family in 1927, and it continues to remain family-owned. The company produces various product categories that include leather goods such as handbags and shoes, as well as an expanding category of accessories that include eyewear, jewellery and watches. Furla’s headquarters are in Bologna, Italy, in a historic 18th-century villa. In 2015, the company opened a five-storey tall ‘Palazzo’ in central Milan.
Furla’s pricing is lower than that of brands such as Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton, which Furla says gives it a competitive advantage. “It is the only brand in the fast-growing premium segment that gives customers an authentic Italian experience with an attractive value for money proposition, positioning itself as one of the major global players in the leather goods market,” according to the company.