Tag Archives: Sherway Gardens

Links of London lands in Toronto

Trendy jewellery chain Links of London is opening its first Canadian standalone boutique this week in the Toronto Eaton Centre.

LinksofLondon

The British jeweler, which is owned by global fashion powerhouse Folli Follie Group, has more than 100 retail locations around the world. In the Canadian market, it operates a handful of kiosks inside Holt Renfrew stores, as well as one that recently opened in Montreal’s downtown luxury department store Ogilvy.

Although Links of London started out specializing in cufflinks in 1990, it now offers jewellery of all kinds – including watches – and is perhaps best known for its collection of so-called ‘Sweetie’ charm bracelets.

Sweetie Bracelet

Sweetie Charm Bracelet, $295.

Links of London has also become affiliated with Britain’s world-famous Wimbledon tennis tournament, offering a collection of playful and sporty jewellery dedicated to the annual event.

The new store, located next to Michael Kors on the third floor of the Toronto Eaton Centre, opens on June 16th.

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A second standalone Canadian Links of London store is set to open soon at Sherway Gardens. Although the jeweller has already been operating a kiosk in Sherway’s Holt Renfrew location, that store is preparing to shut its doors to make way for a new, larger Holt Renfrew location at Square One Shopping Centre.

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Reiss reaches overseas

U.K.-based fashion brand Reiss has opened its second Toronto location at Sherway Gardens, and a recent ownership change for the chain suggests Canadians could soon see more Reiss stores across the country.

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Reiss store at the Toronto Eaton Centre.

The upscale men’s and women’s clothing retailer, known for being a favourite brand of the Dutchess of Cambridge, made its Canadian debut in March with the opening of a store in the Toronto Eaton Centre.

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The chain, founded by David Reiss in 1971, now has more than 160 locations in 15 countries.

In April, Reiss Holdings – the company that owns the retail chain – entered an agreement to sell a majority stake in the company to New York-based global private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC.

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That transaction positions Reiss for further international growth, particularly in North America, Asia and Australia, with a goal of building Reiss “into a truly global fashion brand,” David Reiss said in a statement about the deal.

That could mean the new Toronto stores are just the beginning of a broader Canadian presence for the fashion brand.

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Reiss is celebrating the launch of the new Sherway Gardens store with an opening party on Thursday, May 12, co-hosted by The Kit, complete with treats and drinks, and a chance to win a $1,500 Reiss wardrobe.

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Difficulties at Danier

The intense competitive pressures that have wreaked havoc on Canadian retailers in the past few years are showing no signs of slowing down.

The latest victim is Toronto-based Danier Leather Inc., a 44-year old leather-goods retailer that filed for creditor protection in early February. The chain operates more than 80 stores, all of which face the prospect of shutting down unless the company can find a buyer or investor to reverse its grim financial situation.

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The potential closure would leave vacancies in most major GTA shopping centres, including the Toronto Eaton Centre, Sherway Gardens, Square One, Fairview Mall and Scarborough Town Centre, among others.

Danier has carved out a reputation as a destination for leather goods. The brand has certainly had success within that niche, with a wide range of leather outerwear and bags, along with complementary accessories such as scarves, toques and gloves.

As frigid Canadian winters have driven consumers towards parkas and down-filled coats warm enough to get them through days when the temperature struggles to surpass -20 degrees, however, Danier has faced increasing competition from brands such as Canada Goose.

Even if the bulk of Danier’s merchandise is designed for times of year when a lighter jacket is appropriate, consumers who are shelling out hundreds of dollars on winter parkas have likely begun to think twice about spending extra cash on a new spring jacket.

It remains to be seen whether this niche Canadian chain will be rescued, or suffer the same fate as such brands as Mexx Canada and Parasuco Retail Inc.

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Shopping around the clock

Busy GTA shoppers now have more time to get their retail fix.

Several Toronto-area shopping centres have recently extended their hours of operation, particularly on weekends, allowing shoppers to keep browsing and buying from their favourite stores well into the evenings.

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Sherway Gardens and Fairview Mall recently announced that they are now open from 9:30 am to 9 pm on Saturdays, and the Toronto Eaton Centre is open from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm.

And on Sundays – a day when laws used to prohibit retailers from opening at all – the Eaton Centre is now open a full nine hours, from 10 am to 7 pm, while Fairview and Sherway are open from 11 am to 7 pm and 11 am to 6 pm, respectively.

I can still recall when most stores were open a standard five hours on Sundays – noon to 5 pm.

These malls, all owned by The Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd., are likely changing their hours in an effort to compete with the growing popularity of e-commerce. Since customers can now do much of their shopping from the comfort of their home or office – anytime that’s convenient for them – they’ve become accustomed to service that caters to their schedule, and not the other way around.

In order to remain relevant in this rapidly changing environment, bricks and mortar retailers must take steps to meet customers’ rapidly evolving expectations, such as staying open longer.

As a former retail worker, however, I feel for the sales associates, store managers and other staff members who are required to work these new hours.

Although some may appreciate the bigger paycheques that come with extra hours on the clock, the job is one that can already be very tiring, involving seemingly endless hours on your feet. Tacking a couple extra hours onto the end of a shift may not seem like a big deal, but after several hours in heels, the minutes tend to crawl by at a snail’s pace.

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And, even though 9 pm may seem like a reasonable time for a store to close its doors, few retail staff members get to leave at that time. Cleaning the store, counting the till and getting things ready for the next day can easily take an hour, and on evenings when new merchandise needs to go out on the floor, workers can be stuck at a store until the early hours of the morning.

After a long week of work, that’s hardly an ideal way to spend a Saturday night.

Since it’s standard for retailers to temporarily extend their hours during the busy Christmas season, it’s possible that these workers could face even longer hours come November and December.

After that, it will be interesting to see whether these retail hubs stick with their new extended hours of operation, or revert to their old ones. If the hours pay off in the form of more sales, shop keepers will likely need to get used to their new schedules.

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End of an era for Esprit

Toronto’s about to lose a major international clothing retailer. Esprit, the global fashion chain with more than 800 stores around the world, has announced that it plans to close all of its North American stores due to dwindling profits in Canada and the U.S.

Esprit operates 90 directly managed stores in North America. Toronto locations include a store at the Eaton Centre, one at Yorkdale Shopping Centre and one at Sherway Gardens, along with various other locations on the outskirts of the city. Most of them will close in the next week or two.

At a time when many international retail chains are flourishing in Canada, it seems unusual for one of these major chains to be checking out of this country’s retail business entirely.

But clearly, the company hasn’t done a very good job of keeping Canadian shoppers coming back. Same-store sales were down by 7.7% at Canadian Esprit stores in the year ending June 30, 2011. And last week, the company said its profits in the first half of the year were down 74% from last year.

Esprit has been operating in Canada and the U.S. for many years, and I can recall a time when the stores were very popular shopping destinations, especially among teenaged girls. They carried trendy fashions and the aisles of the stores would be bustling with shoppers.

During visits to the mall in the past couple years, however, I’ve noticed far fewer shoppers frequenting Esprit stores.

It’s not too often I find fashions that I personally like at Esprit. And when an item at Esprit does catch my eye, it’s often too pricey for what I consider it to be worth.

In a world where fast-fashion retailers seem to thrive (think H&M, where it’s not uncommon to find trendy tops priced at less than $10), it’s tough for other fashion retailers to stay competitive, unless quality or label status sets them apart.

My guess is, this type of competition proved to be too much for Esprit – at least in North America. The brand seems to be holding up well in Europe and Asia, so Canadian shoppers will still be have access to the brand on travels abroad.

In the meantime, if you’re an Esprit fan, now would be the time to stock up on this company’s clothing. There are currently huge sales at the company’s Canadian stores – to the tune of 70% off all merchandise – as it aims to clear out its remaining merchandise.

But don’t expect any kind of orderly shopping experience. The Esprit location that I recently visited didn’t even have clothes on hangers – what was left of the picked-over merchandise was overflowing out of boxes on tables and on the ground. Some boxes appeared to be labelled – “Men’s Shirts” or “Women’s Size Large”, for example – but most were a messy mishmash of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, along with lingerie. So, bargain hunters, be prepared to truly have to hunt for an Esprit bargain.

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Filed under Clothing Lines, Fashion, Sales & Deals, Store Closures

A taste of France for Toronto cooks

French cookware company Le Creuset has arrived in the GTA, bringing its internationally renowned collection of cast-iron products to eager Toronto-area cooks.

The iconic culinary brand opened a Toronto flagship store in Sherway Gardens in August. It was the second Canadian store for Le Creuset, the first having opened in Calgary in 2010. The company has since opened a third location in Quebec as it continues to expand its presence across the country.

Le Creuset's new flagship store in Quebec.

Le Creuset is well known for its colourful collection of cast iron cookware, including French ovens, skillets, saucepans, roasters and more, available in such bold colours as ‘Flame’ orange, ‘Cherry’ red, ‘Dijon’ yellow and ‘Caribbean’ blue.

The stores also carry a wide range of other cookware, such as stainless steel pots and pans, stoneware dishes, hot-forged fry pans and various culinary utensils and accessories.

Founded in 1925 in France, the brand has certainly made a name for itself among culinary fans worldwide. Although the products are pricey, they get rave reviews the vast majority of customers.

Le Creuset products are also available at certain other Toronto retailers, such as The Bay, William Ashley and Nella Cutlery.

The new location at Sherway Gardens, however, aims to give shoppers a unique experience they won’t find at these other retailers. It will host regular demonstrations by local chefs and book tours with popular authors, among other in-store events.

Bon appétit, shoppers!

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