British Brand ‘FatFace’ Continues Canadian Store Expansion with 1st Outlet Store and More Locations to Open this Year [Interview]

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FatFace, a British, family, lifestyle clothing brand that is Made for Life, has opened its first Canadian outlet store at Toronto Premium Outlets in Halton Hills.

FatFace opened its first three stores in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Barrie and Newmarket earlier this year. 

Mark Wright

The opening of the stores in Canada follows months of research using insights from the US and Canadian customers to identify the towns to launch in and builds on a successful performance in the United States, ever since the first store opened in North America six years ago, said the retailer, said Mark Wright, Chief Operating Officer at FatFace.

“While this is our first outlet store in Canada, we have two outlet stores in the US, where customers love being able to buy clothes from current and past seasons. Earlier this summer we launched a pop-up in Toronto’s Distillery District, and we’re excited to also be putting down some roots down in the Toronto area at Toronto Premium Outlets,” said Wright.

“This is just the start of our journey in Canada, and we’re really excited to see where it will take us. Our first store only opened in May, and we already have five up and running, including our pop-up in Toronto’s Distillery District. What’s more we’re planning on opening another three stores before Christmas. In terms of generating growth in this new market, we’re sticking with the brand’s roots of relying on strong word of mouth about excellent product and customer service. You won’t see any FatFace advertising, but you might spot people wearing their favourite Airlie sweatshirt in the special Canadian flag design.

“While Canadian customers can currently use the US website to order online, we are working hard to improve and refine this experience, with updates to come in early 2024. All the early signs are good, and we’re committed to building a credible and loved brand in Canada.”

FatFace at Toronto Premium Outlets (Image: Linkedin)
FatFace in Georgian Mall, Barrie, Ontario (Image: GTA General Contractors / Mike Black PhotoWorks)

Jennifer Bowyer and Jeff Berkowitz of Aurora Realty Consultants represents FatFace in Canada. 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. 

FatFace currently has 180 stores in the UK, five in Ireland and over 25 stores in the US and Canada. Looking ahead, FatFace plans to open three further stores in Canada in 2023. This will take the number of Canadian stores to eight

“We are a global brand with commitment and appetite to extend in North America. Alongside new store openings, we are growing our online business in the UK, US and Europe. We also sell our products through third party stores and websites, such as at Next in the UK and Van Maur in the US,” said Wright.

“FatFace is an iconic British brand with a trusted heritage providing great quality clothing. Back in 1988, two friends with a love of the outdoors and adventure began selling homemade T-shirts and sweatshirts out the back of a campervan to fund their adventures. Now 35 years old, our rich brand heritage continues to delight customers, with ranges for all the family.

“The brand’s popularity continues to grow as we execute our strategy: never compromising the quality of our products, being laser focused on our multi-channel offering, growing our international business and all the while remaining dedicated to sustainability to ensure the business is fit for the future. Our headquarters are in Havant, on the south coast of England. We love being by the seaside, where outdoor living is an important value, inspiring us to create products our customers love.”

FatFace in Georgian Mall, Barrie, Ontario (Image: GTA General Contractors / Mike Black PhotoWorks)
FatFace in Georgian Mall, Barrie, Ontario (Image: GTA General Contractors / Mike Black PhotoWorks)

Although FatFace started out with a focus on men’s ski and sportswear, it is now firmly a family lifestyle brand, said Wright.

“Our current sales mix is around 65 per cent on womenswear, 25 per cent on menswear, and a small but important selection of kidswear and accessories. Last year we launched a pet range as part of our commitment to make clothes for the whole family. Our customers have a thirst for life and sense of adventure. Authenticity, community and sustainability are important to us in all our locations. We take this responsibility to our customers and their environments seriously, as evidenced by the fact that we recently became the UK’s largest retailer to be awarded B Corp status,” he said.

“From our responsible sourcing practices, climate conscious initiatives and inspiring charity partnerships to the wonderful people who are driving change across our business and in our local communities, becoming a B Corp™ is a celebration of all that we stand for. Our sustainability journey began over 10 years ago but fast forward to today – now an international multi channel business – and we are more focused and ambitious than ever on finding ways to reduce our impact on the planet, and positively support our colleagues and the communities we operate in. We know this is something our customers care about whether they’re buying one of our iconic Airlie sweatshirts, or purchasing some of our novelty socks.”

FatFace Pop-up at The Distillery District (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
FatFace in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario (Image: GTA General Contractors / Mike Black PhotoWorks)
FatFace in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario (Image: GTA General Contractors / Mike Black PhotoWorks)

Wright said what sets the retailer apart from other brands is the breadth of its  product range married with its unwavering commitment to quality.

“Whether shoppers are looking to get kitted out for the outdoors, have a relaxing night in, or get dressed up for a special occasion, our customers know they can rely on FatFace for an outfit that never compromises on style or quality. In that sense, we have no real direct competitors taking the same holistic approach to providing high quality clothing for the whole family to live in, no matter the occasion,” he said.

***Photos courtesy of Mike Black PhotoWorks

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. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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