Tag Archives: Toronto Eaton Centre

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.

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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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Olympic Spirit: In Stores Now

The Olympic Games tend to permeate all aspects of society each time they occur, dominating workplace conversations, media coverage and television airtime for two weeks straight.

This time around, the games also gained a prominent presence in stores and malls, as the retail industry showed its support for the games, and Canada’s athletes in particular.

Whereas we’ve long seen retailers such as Roots and Hudson’s Bay Company embrace the games by providing Team Canada merchandise – including those red mittens that became ubiquitous during the 2010 Vancouver Games – a variety of other retailers got in on the action this year.

Companies such as Sport Chek and Canadian Tire, for example, launched aggressive marketing campaigns demonstrating their support for Team Canada, with floor-to-ceiling advertisements at certain TTC subway stations.

Shopping centres also seemed to get into the Olympic spirit more than ever before. The Toronto Eaton Centre, for example, set up a viewing lounge where people could take a break from shopping to catch up on the latest Olympic action.

Olympic Viewing Lounge at the Toronto Eaton Centre

Olympic Viewing Lounge at the Toronto Eaton Centre

On Family Day, the Eaton Centre showcased the viewing lounge during a special event featuring Jason Burnett, an Olympic silver medalist in trampoline, who took photos with fans and signed autographs. Burnett also made an appearance at Fairview Mall during the long weekend, which had a similar viewing lounge set up for shoppers to enjoy.

It’s a smart strategy from a business perspective, enticing consumers to stick around at the mall longer than they might otherwise in order to see Olympic events they don’t want to miss. The more time shoppers spend at the mall, the more likely they are to make more purchases – even if it’s just a latte to sip on while watching some figure skating or bobsledding.

Support for Team Canada on display at the Toronto Eaton Centre

Support for Team Canada on display at the Toronto Eaton Centre

The Winter Olympics clearly resonate with Canadians, providing an exciting event to rally around during the cold and dark winter months. The games also elicit a strong sense of pride among Canadians, so it’s understandable that retailers would want to find a way of associating themselves with this event.

Although retailers have their business reasons for getting involved, it’s nice to see the industry showing its support. I’m sure the athletes appreciate all the support they can get, and from a fan’s perspective, it’s one more element contributing to the exciting spirit of the games.

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Style Faux Pas strives for stellar service

In a world where personalized customer service is increasingly being squeezed out by online retailers, mobile apps, and perhaps – as we learned this week – even drones, a new Toronto boutique is striving to bring back the customized service that many shoppers still crave.

Style Faux Pas (@stylefauxpas), a new fashion retailer that opened last week on Church Street, north of Queen, claims to be “more than a traditional boutique”.

StyleFauxPas

Launched by Alisha Hanif, an entrepreneur from B.C. with a passion for fashion styling, the shop offers such services as personal shopping and image consulting. Hanif’s goal is to provide a customized fashion experience, helping each client to find her own unique look.

This retail concept – although not at all new – seems strangely refreshing in these digital times.

The shop carries handpicked pieces from such designer clothing brands as Whitney Eve; Love, Zooey; Label + Thread; and Maurie & Eve. It also features accessories from such Canadian designers as Jessica Jensen and Melanie Auld, along with a selection of men’s wear.

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The 600-square-foot boutique is located in a neighbourhood that’s not exactly known for its fashion, but since it’s just a short walk east of the Eaton Centre and the trendy retail strip on Queen Street West, Style Faux Pas will likely have no trouble attracting nearby shoppers.

The boutique is open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm.

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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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A new location for Loft

Women’s clothing retailer Loft has opened its second Canadian location, at the Toronto Eaton Centre.

The sister chain to Ann Taylor, owned by Ann Inc., unveiled its first Canadian store at Yorkdale Shopping Centre towards the end of last year (Ann Taylor reaches for “Lofty” new heights). The new downtown location opened on May 31st, and was warmly welcomed by many keen shoppers.

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Loft carries trendy fashions for women, with styles that come in a variety of different fits to flatter such body types as petites and tall women, along with a maternity line. Its styles are somewhat comparable to those available at RW & Co. and Banana Republic.

The new shop is located on the top level of the Eaton Centre, across from Michael Kors. It’s a nice sized store, with a comprehensive section at the back devoted to petite sizes.

The retailer is planning to open three other GTA locations in the months to come, including one in Lime Ridge Mall in Hamilton in July, one in Markville Shopping Centre in Markham in August, and one in Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga in October.

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The retailer also recently expanded its e-commerce capabilities to the Canadian market, so that shoppers on this side of the border can buy Loft fashions online.

The opening of the new store comes about six months after Loft’s higher-end sister chain, Ann Taylor, launched its own location in the Toronto Eaton Centre. That chain has been embarking on its own Canadian expansion strategy, having opened two Toronto locations this past fall.

Canadian women appear to be embracing both well-established U.S. brands, as they continue to expand into this country.

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