SOURCE: CRAIG PATTERSON, SPECIAL TO RETAIL INSIDER
Popular Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo has opened its third Vancouver-area store at CF Richmond Centre as it expands its operations by opening stores across the country. In the span of just six months, Uniqlo has opened three stores in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, with the area now boasting more stores than Toronto.
Toronto can boast having more Uniqlo square footage, however — the city houses two flagships that both exceed 30,000 square feet of retail space, while the Vancouver units are a bit smaller. Uniqlo’s Metropolis at Metrotown store, which opened in October of 2017, is the largest in BC at 20,630 square feet. A 12,800 square foot Uniqlo opened on March 9 of this year at Guildford Town Centre in Surrey.
Uniqlo says that its CF Richmond Centre store measures 8,010 square feet, though a lease plan on Cadillac Fairview’s website shows the store as having just over 11,500 square feet of space on one level. Retail Insider Vancouver correspondent Ritchie Po was at the opening, and he said that there were lineups for the opening, despite being a third location in the region for Uniqlo. The company ran a promotion for the Richmond opening and the diverse local community was no doubt already very familiar with the brand.
Uniqlo’s first Canadian store opened in Toronto in September of 2016, when it unveiled a 33,400 square foot location at CF Toronto Eaton Centre. A second Toronto store followed in October of 2016 when Uniqlo opened a 30,300 square foot location at Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
Vancouver won’t hold the title of having ‘the most’ for long, however — Uniqlo will be announcing a third Toronto-area store soon in a space that spans about 26,000 square feet over two levels, in one of the country’s leading shopping centres.
Uniqlo has been seeing strong sales in Canada according to sources with access to sales numbers, which is a good thing — some retailers in Canada are seeing reduced numbers as competition increases and shoppers spend elsewhere. Canadian debt levels are at an all time high, as are rents and housing prices in many Canadian cities. Consumers are also more likely to seek out ‘experiences’ as well as spend more on eating out and traveling. Uniqlo’s value proposition that includes quality items at reasonable prices (with some technology thrown in) will hold it well in the face of competition.
Uniqlo is expected to eventually expand into secondary markets such as Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa, and the company has been working to gain brand awareness through its Toronto and Vancouver operations. The Montreal market is also expected to see stores, though there could be a slight delay due to efforts to address language laws. In September of 2016, Uniqlo Founder and CEO Tadashi Yanai told Marina Strauss of the Globe & Mail that Uniqlo could eventually operate as many as 100 stores in Canada.
Jeff Berkowitz of Aurora Realty Consultants represents Uniqlo as broker in Canada.