New Zealand-based menswear brand Rodd & Gunn is expanding into the Canadian market this year with standalone stores. Its first will open on Hazelton Avenue in Toronto, and more are planned.
The Toronto location at 21 Hazelton Avenue is expected to carry the full line of Rodd & Gunn’s ready-to-wear line as well as footwear and accessories. The entire building spans just under 3,300 square feet, including a ground floor of 1,029 square feet, a second floor with 934 square feet, and a basement level spanning 1,331 square feet. The store will open this spring.
The building at 19-21 Hazelton Avenue, which was originally built as two semi-detached houses, was constructed in 1900 and was renovated in 2006. Until recently, upscale multi-brand womenswear retailer George C. operated in the Rodd & Gunn space, and the store closed due to the owner’s retirement. Next door is Amsterdam-based custom men’s retailer Atelier Munro in 19 Hazelton, which opened its first Canadian location there in October of 2022.
Other historic homes on Hazelton Avenue have been turned into retail spaces, and over the years there has also been some purpose-built retail construction. A clustering of menswear brands on the street appears to have developed with Amsterdam-based SuitSupply occupying a large three-level store a few doors south of Atelier Munro and the future Rodd & Gunn.
Rodd & Gunn plans to open more standalone stores in Canada. Locations sought include street-front spaces in buildings with ‘character’ in nodes with premium brand/multi-brand retailers, as well as enclosed malls. The ideal size for stores are in the 2,000-3,000+ square foot range.
Scott Braini, General Manager of Real Estate at Rodd & Gunn, said, “Our premises selection almost always starts with a building that exudes character or a notable point of difference that we can lean into as a brand and showcase our unique rich heritage & personality.”
He went on to say, “Preferred locations are vibrant retail nodes that provide a village energy and showcase a diverse and eclectic retail mix from progressive designers, premium lifestyle offers, classic sophisticated staples and market leading cafes and restaurants.”
In the Toronto area, Rodd & Gunn is targeting opening three to five stores, and a national expansion initially in the Montreal and Vancouver markets is in the works, given opportunities.
“We are driven by opportunities that excite and engage with our passion for retail. Rodd & Gunn is extremely dynamic in its approach to property, and will readily pivot our strategy to achieve unique and authentic experiences for our customers,” said Braini.
Rodd & Gunn is also eyeing the potential to open at least one Rodd & Gunn + Lodge Bar flagship in Canada, which would include retail as well as a significant licensed food and beverage component. The right location is paramount, with the Lounge Bar concept building brand awareness while showcasing the New Zealand lifestyle at an elevated level. Locations such as this would span in the 7,000-12,000+ square foot range. These concepts have proven to be popular in New Zealand and Australia.
When asked if Rodd & Gunn was bringing the Lodge Bar flagship concept to Canada, he said, “Most definitely; however, we do not currently have a firm timeline for this. These stores are an immersive brand experience that encapsulates Rodd & Gunn’s vision and values across lifestyle mediums of food and fashion. The catalyst for these locations starts with a location that captures our hearts and imaginations!”
Rodd & Gunn entered Canada more than a year ago via a concession presence at Hudson’s Bay. Almost half of Hudson’s Bay’s stores now have a Rodd & Gunn concession presence. These concessions will remain operational as part of the brand’s Canadian penetration strategy while standalone stores also become operational.
“Department stores remain a key touch point for our consumers and provide a platform for scaled accessibility. These environments are typically operated as a concession (store in store) which enable us to create a true Rodd & Gunn experience through the deployment of our expert retail team and the curation of our product offering as only we know how,” said Braini.