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May 14, 2006, 3:13 AM
A co-worker brought this very fact up actually at work today, about how Canada does not push people to learn our customs. This is Canada, and you speak English when you are in a store. Its simple. I really don't think stores in Canada should be making it more easy for people not to learn the language of this country.
Tell that to ppl working at Simon's in Sherbrooke.

Your nation is one of BI-ligualism, as in You need to know 2 Languages if you're expected to get around the bulk of your nation.

If you plan on never stepping foot into Quebec, save for West Montreal, then feel free to only speak English.

crooked rain
May 14, 2006, 3:18 AM
A co-worker brought this very fact up actually at work today, about how Canada does not push people to learn our customs. This is Canada, and you speak English when you are in a store. Its simple. I really don't think stores in Canada should be making it more easy for people not to learn the language of this country.

There goes Chinatown.

More often than not, you are posting bemoaning the fact that diversity is declining (see your Church St thread in city discussions), then you complain because somebody is speaking Chinese at the Bay. Your opinion seems inconsistent.

May 14, 2006, 5:02 PM
I don't agree that people at the Bay should only speak English (or French). I think they should have the option to speak in their language of origin. What happened to embracing diversity rather than publicly support it in theory, but trash it in practice. As someone's already said, it's not like they're forcing you to speak it!

May 16, 2006, 7:54 PM
How Swede it is for H&M store in Lime Ridge Mall

By Steve Arnold
The Hamilton Spectator
(May 16, 2006)

Fashion alert -- H&M is coming to Lime Ridge Mall.

The Swedish clothing retailer, which has been teasing Hamilton shoppers since early in the year, confirmed yesterday it will locate on the ground floor of the Mountain's consumer cathedral.

Laura Shankland, of the chain's marketing and public relations team, said the decision to come to Hamilton was "a natural extension of our expansion plans" and Lime Ridge was the obvious location.

"Our strategy is always to look for the best locations, no matter where we are," she said.

Hoarding around the new store's location went up last week, marking the start of renovations the company hopes will be finished in time for an early September opening.

"With building and everything, there's always a chance things can go wrong but we hope to open in time to catch a bit of the back-to-school rush," Shankland said. "We have a lot of kids lines, so that season is very important to us."

H&M replaces The Bombay Company, which has moved into a temporary location until its new digs on the second floor are ready.

Mandeep Malik, professor of marketing at McMaster University's business school, predicted the new store will draw good business to Lime Ridge Mall because of its attraction for younger shoppers.

"H&M has a lot of equity in the youth market. There is real buzz about it and it will draw a lot of traffic for Lime Ridge until that peters out," he said. "Overall, it's going to be good for Lime Ridge Mall and retail activity in general."

A popular new store like H&M, he said, can hit competitors like The Gap, American Eagle Outfitters and Old Navy by drawing business away, or help them by increasing the overall level of retail activity.

Known for offering cutting edge styles at affordable prices, H&M targets "fashion conscious women" -- shoppers continually updating their wardrobes, creating an unending demand for something new. To feed, and partly create, that demand, H&M has a team of more than 100 Stockholm designers scouting clubs, concerts, film sets, art shows, Tokyo streets and TV in their hunt for clothing's coolest. In addition to being nimble -- it can take a new piece from a design sketch to store in as little as three weeks compared to a minimum three months for other chains -- it also discounts designs by stars like Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld, Beatles daughter Stella McCartney and Viktor and Rolf.

Viktor and Rolf's lines for men and women will be offered in select stores starting in November. Exactly which stores hasn't been decided yet, Shankland said.

May 20, 2006, 10:53 PM
From: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-0605160197may16,1,849370.story?coll=chi-business-hed
Crate & Barrel filling up with new stores, brand

By Mary Ellen Podmolik
Special to the Tribune
Published May 16, 2006

Crate & Barrel, widely known within retailing circles for its cautious growth strategy over the past 44 years, is getting more aggressive with new store openings.

The Northbrook-based chain will enter three markets and open up to 13 stores in the next 18 months, as well as extend the new edgier, more urban CB2 brand to another city, said Gordon Segal, chief executive officer.

The company said the Crate & Barrel chain now has 144 stores.

Its first step outside the United States, across the Canadian border into Toronto, also is planned for next year.

At the same time, Segal, who founded the chain with his wife in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood, is slowly pulling himself away from the 60-hour workweeks he has maintained while building the company. Longtime employee Barbara Turf, 63, who has served as company president since 1996, will begin making more public appearances, Segal said in an interview.

With the merchandise mix in CB2 tweaked--focusing more on home furnishings and less on accessories--and a catalog, Web site and gift registry operational, Segal believes the new concept is ready to roll out beyond the two Chicago stores, the first of which opened in 2000. Eventually there could be up to 150 stores, he said.

He hopes to open six more CB2 stores in the next 18 months, including another in the Chicago market. Beyond that, executives are trying to decide whether to first bring the chain to Los Angeles, New York or Miami. Miami may be the best bet, Segal said, because it has produced the best sales for CB2's catalog and online business outside of Chicago.

New markets for Crate & Barrel will be Charlotte and Kansas City this year and Connecticut next year. After three years of negotiation, Segal said the chain is close to two real estate deals in Toronto. Expansion into Europe, however, will take more time.

Crate has undertaken a study of every product in its inventory, to determine what products would easily translate abroad and what merchandise would have to be redesigned.

Two hitches he already sees: Crate's overstuffed furniture may not fit in smaller European apartments, and its measuring spoons would have to be redesigned to accommodate the British definition of teaspoon.

Segal, 67, sold a majority stake in the company in 1998 to Otto Group, but he has always been considered the public face of Crate & Barrel. He still spends up to a third of his time traveling for the company, but he admits "the excitement isn't as much there."

"I'm slowly transitioning," Segal said. "I don't want to be here when I'm 75 or 80. You get more tired. It's a very high-energy job."

Segal credits Marimekko, the Finnish textile company he began working with in 1966, as the "biggest single influence" on Crate's architecture, display, product design and on his life. Today the boldly colored fabric is only sold in outlet stores, but it remains part of the store displays and is prominently featured at the firm's Northbrook headquarters.

Crate is sponsoring an exhibit of Marimekko at the Illinois Institute of Technology June 10 through July 28.

Jun 2, 2006, 9:09 PM
I gotta tell ya, with Aldo, La Senza is everywhere in the UK!

From: http://news.yahoo.com/s/cpress/20060601/ca_pr_on_bu/la_senza;_ylt=Ap2tIbTvkC29vg6yqzuXT_D3070F;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA--
La Senza expansion continues aggressive multi-year expansion in Canada, abroad
DAVID PADDON Thu Jun 1, 1:36 PM ET
TORONTO (CP) - La Senza Corp. (TSX:LSZ - news) is "firing on all cylinders" and plans to continue its aggressive multi-year expansion of lingerie stores in Canada and internationally, company executives told analysts Thursday.


In Canada, La Senza is opening more stores in power centres, increasing the size of many of its stores in regional malls and converting its Silk and Satin stores to the La Senza Express brand, Irving Teitelbaum, La Senza chairman and chief executive said in a conference call.

"And we continue to expand rather actively globally through La Senza International," Teitelbaum said. "It's a very exciting growth story going forward."

La Senza has 306 corporate-owned stores across Canada, up from 290 a year ago, and 272 independently owned La Senza and La Senza Girl stores operating under licence in 27 other countries.

The Montreal-based company's stock gained 30 cents, or 1.2 per cent, Thursday to $24.80 with 7,830 shares traded at midday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Earlier, it hit an intraday high of $25.50 - equalling its 52-week high set May 25.

On Wednesday, La Senza announced it had more than doubled its profits to $4.1 million or 30 cents per share in its latest quarter ended April 30 as sales jumped 16 per cent from the year-earlier period.

Sales rose to $96.7 million in the first quarter, from $83.4 million, with comparable-store sales increasing six per cent. Net income in the year-earlier period was $1.7 million or 13 cents a share.

The latest quarter included a $1-million writedown of property and equipment from the conversion of Silk & Satin stores to the new La Senza Express banner. The year-ago results included a loss of $879,000 from discontinued U.S. operations.

Capital expenditures during the quarter were $6.7 million, up from $4 million a year earlier.

The company opened seven stores in the first quarter, closed six stores and renovated three. A year earlier, it opened one store, closed five and renovated two.

Laurence Lewin, La Senza's president and chief operating officer, said that "as I mentioned last quarter, we are in the fortunate position that all of our operations (La Senza Inc., La Senza Girl, La Senza International and the online retail business) are showing profits and increasing profits."

"In other words, to use a more colloquial term, we're firing on all cylinders," Lewin said.

"This year is a year of remarkable expansion. We have a substantial capital expenditure budget and our three-year plan shows that that budget will continue pretty well through to the subsequent two fiscal years," Lewin said.

The money is focused on the La Senza brand.

The new La Senza Express concept, with stores of 1,800 to 2,000 square feet each, is being applied to converted Silk and Satin stores since the fiscal first quarter ended.

So far, 13 Silk and Satin stores have been converted and 20 more will be completed in the next two months.

"I can report that, with very few weeks of operation, the increase in business with the brand of La Senza over the door - La Senza Express, in other words - has been remarkable as compared with the Silk and Satin operations last year."

"It's not only increased business in those stores but we've maintained business in our existing La Senza lingerie stores within the same shopping centre."

As a result, the La Senza Express brand will be further expanded and there are between 70 and 100 other locations that can be leased with that banner in Canada, he added.

Lewin said a lawsuit filed against La Senza by U.S. rival Victoria's Secret over a wireless pushup bra has been blown out of proportion.

"If it was another company, with a name like John Smith and Co., it wouldn't have shown so much interest," Lewin said.

He described it as a "regular trademark dispute" over the name of La Senza's ITEC bra, which Victoria's Secret says is too similar to its IPEX wireless bra.

"This case is not about us copying or knocking off a Victoria's Secret bra," he said. "Their claim is the methodology of marketing and what they claim to be the similarity of the name is the reason for taking action."

Jun 2, 2006, 11:34 PM
Reitmans will create a new chain and open 10 stores... geezus 887 stores, that is alot.


New stores boost Reitmans profit 10%

10 outlets planned: New banner Cassis to target Baby Boomers

Hollie Shaw, Financial Post

Published: Friday, May 26, 2006
New store openings helped Reitmans (Canada) Ltd. realize a profit increase of 10% in the first quarter as the retailer readies its newest format, a clothing chain aimed at older women.

Net income at Canada's biggest specialty retailer of women's apparel rose to $21.7-million, or 30 cents a share, in the period ended April 30, compared with $19.7-million (28 cents) a year earlier.

Sales at the the Montreal-based company, which owns 887 stores under banners including RW & Co., Penningtons, Smart Set and Thyme Maternity, climbed 4.3% to $223-million.

"The combination of a late Easter and weather negatively impacted our optimistic sales forecast," George Hartman, an analyst at Dundee Securities, wrote in a note to clients. His estimate was 34 cents a share.

Reitmans will open as many as 10 new stores by the end of the year in Ontario and Quebec under the new banner Cassis, which targets women aged 40 to 60, a growing, underserved demographic.

Sales in stores open at least a year, an important industry metric, rose 2.3%, compared with a 7% increase the year before.

"That is an OK figure," said Bob Gibson, retail analyst at Octagon Capital.

"These guys have always done exceptionally well, and 2.3% on a same-store basis is what I'd expect from an average retailer. It looks like they will get much better growth in the last half of the year [when the company plans to open 68 new stores and close 19]. You always look for the upside with that kind of store growth," he said.
Mr. Hartman concurred: "We believe the shortfall to our estimates does not make for a trend, and we expect an
improvement in [the second quarter] and the back half of the year."

Market researcher Trendex North America says Reitmans has increased its market share at virtually all of its banners in the past two years, including its namesake, the largest of the chains. Reitmans share of the Canadian womenswear market rose to 3.2% in 2005, from 2.9% in 2003.
Shareholders have also been rewarded, with the stock rising more than 25% in the past year.
Reitmans also said yesterday it will record a one-time charge in the second quarter due to proposed legislation in Quebec that will impose retroactive taxes of about $17-million, plus interest and penalties.

Close: $20.21, down 9 cents
Volume: 23,160
Avg. 6-month vol.: 89,988
Rank in FP500: 264

Jun 3, 2006, 3:23 PM
From: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20060603.DUFFERIN03/TPStory/National
Malls? Call them shopping centres
The megabrands move in, giving Dufferin Mall and Gerrard Square a makeover

Special to The Globe and Mail
There is a rumour travelling around the city's west end faster than a summer cold. International fashion megabrand H&M is coming to Dufferin Mall.

Gasp. Could this mean the Duff is going bougie? As rising real-estate prices push young professionals into the neighbourhoods bordering Toronto's downtown, these in-between areas are changing dramatically. And one barometer of social change is the local mall.

Two malls that bookend the city's downtown -- Dufferin Mall in the west and Gerrard Square in the east -- are both currently undergoing transformations that are the shopping-plaza equivalent to the power-washing of an old brick home.

Not long ago, the Duff was known more for its shady side than for its shopping; teen gangs and gun violence plagued the mall during the 1980s and early 1990s. But in recent years, community groups -- and popular retailers like Winners and Wal-Mart -- turned the mall into a hub for budget-minded shoppers.

"Nobody went there but teenagers and old Portuguese men," says Simone Abel, a Toronto Web designer who has lived in the area for six years. "It's really changed a lot in the last five years."

Now, with H&M moving in, Dufferin Mall is moving even further upmarket as part of a management strategy to keep in step with the community, says Lana Vukelic, the mall's general manager. Old brick homes at below Annex prices have lured younger, more upwardly mobile buyers. Across the street, Dufferin Grove Park has attracted young families with its playground, organic farmers' market and Friday-night potluck dinners. Mall management saw a burgeoning community ready to become a target market -- as did H&M.

"We're in Oxford Street in London, Fifth Avenue in New York and all the key malls," says Laura Shankland of H&M's marketing department. "Dufferin is just a natural step in our expansion."

Across town, Gerrard Square is following the Duff's example. Just over a year ago, the mall, located on Gerrard Street near Pape, offered little more than a Zellers, Food Basics and makeshift kiosks selling sausages and second-hand books.

"It was turning into a flea market," says Robert Piccinin, the mall's leasing manager. Now, the Home Depot, Staples and Winners have moved in, and more name brands are coming, like Urban Planet and Suzy Shier. "The lower-income people are moving out of the area and you have new people who want to shop."

According to Pierre Filion, a professor of urban planning at the University of Waterloo who has studied downtown malls in Canadian cities, there are two ways of looking at what's going on. Yes, the people who used to hang out at the family-run doughnut shop are going to be pushed out when it's transformed into a juice bar. But this is also an example of a private company, the mall management, trying to jump-start an urban phenomenon and replicate high-end commercial strips like the ones in Bloor West Village and along the Danforth and Queen Street in the Beaches, which took decades to become what they are today.

"It's a risky endeavour," Prof. Filion says, "because . . . it's not the Beaches. People aren't going for a walk there. They are trying to create gentrification themselves."

While H&M is a significant step, Ms. Abel doesn't think that the store's arrival means the Duff is there -- yet.

"There's no leather to be found. Just all the vinyl you can shake a stick at," she says. "I'm waiting for a higher-quality shoe store. When I see that, it will be a clear sign of yuppification."

Jun 7, 2006, 9:48 PM
From: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060607.wxrretail07/BNStory/Business/home
Rona hammers out bold strategy
U.S., women and green in its sights

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
TORONTO — Robert Dutton is mapping out a bold expansion plan for home improvement retailer Rona Inc. that will see it enter the U.S. market by next year, and launch new specialty stores geared to women and the environmentally conscious.

It's a bid by the Rona chief executive officer to reach out to a younger generation of hardware shoppers while also bulking up the chain's operations as it prepares to face a big new U.S. competitor in Canada in 2007.

"In the next 10 years, we're going to have lots of change in the way we're going to sell our products -- home renovation products and garden products," Mr. Dutton said yesterday after speaking at the Retail Council of Canada's annual conference.

"It's going to be a revolution."

Mr. Dutton is searching for growth opportunities at a time when the sizzling home improvement retail market is showing signs of a slowdown. At the same time, Lowe's Cos. Inc., the second-largest U.S. chain in the field after Home Depot Inc., will put added pressure on Canadian retailers as it gets ready to open its first stores here next year.

The challenges don't stop there. A younger generation of homeowners will be shopping more, bringing with it its own expectations and demands.

Mr. Dutton is preparing for the shifts. He said Rona is well positioned with its array of different-sized stores, from big boxes to small shops, all catering to a wide range of customers and communities.

In the coming years, Mr. Dutton will focus more on small and mid-sized stores partly because he believes that they appeal to Generations X and Y -- those born between 1965 and 2000 -- who value the service and convenience of a compact boutique.

Smaller stores work well in so-called lifestyle shopping centres, an emerging mall concept in North America. They feature shops in a simulated old-time main street setting, and cater to a well-heeled customer.

"If we want to be there, we're going to have to adapt our store with a different approach," he said.

Specialty stores are one approach, he said. A green store will carry products that are designed to limit harm to the environment, he said, while a store geared to women may carry more home decor items.

Rona will launch these new concepts next year or the year after, he said. "We're going to have a change in the behaviour of the consumer. We're going to have to adapt our stores."

South of the border, Mr. Dutton will be hunting for a chain of smaller-sized stores too, he said. He expects to be in the U.S. market by next year, he said. The move will be "prudent," but he also has big dreams.

He wants Rona to become the third-ranked U.S. home improvement retailer. "We can be third place."

He plans to begin the U.S. expansion in the Northeast and East Coast areas because consumers there have buying habits similar to Canadians, he said. "For the next 10 years, North America is going to be a good playground."

At that point, the chain, based in Boucherville, Que., could consider going further abroad, he said.

But before it enters the U.S. market, it needs to boost its operations here, he said.

Rona is rapidly buying up smaller Canadian hardware retailers, recruiting new operators and building 20 new stores annually. It is aiming to ring up $7-billion of sales by the end of 2007, up from the current $5.2-billion.

Rona's stores already try to cater to handywomen with its highly visible home decor sections and an emphasis on personal service. About 52 per cent of the chain's customers are women.

By next year, it will set up in-store boutiques with specialized home security products, while also focusing more on energy-saving and other environmentally friendly merchandise, he said.

It's an attempt to respond to customers' evolving needs, he added. "We adapt our stores to those needs."

Jun 15, 2006, 9:52 PM
From: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/financialpost/story.html?id=b9477a71-483f-4a22-9c50-ed96d7a483b6&k=27915
London Drugs looks for growth at home for now, no rush to Ontario yet

Craig Wong
Canadian Press

Monday, June 12, 2006

RICHMOND, B.C. (CP) - As the retail world splits between small speciality stores catering to niche markets and big-box sellers like Wal-Mart and Costco selling at the lowest possible price, B.C.-based retailer London Drugs has carved out a unique and growing space for itself.

But the eclectic Western Canadian retailer, which despite its name sells a seemingly bizarre combination of products ranging from deodorant to plasma screen televisions, isn't in any rush to expand into Central Canada just yet.

London Drugs president Wynne Powell says the company's suppliers have urged expansion into Ontario many times and he's looked at it.

"We came close to going in a couple of years ago but decided to hold off because the economy is so buoyant in the West we felt we should continue to expand in the West," Powell said in an interview.

Part electronics store, part pharmacy and part camera shop, rolls of toilet paper can be found just a few aisles over from high-end home theatre systems and computers in a London Drugs store. Bigger than the average drug store, the chain's locations are smaller than a Wal-Mart at an average of 36,000 square feet.

Maureen Atkinson, a senior partner at the retail consultancy J.C. Williams Group, struggled to describe London Drugs and said there really isn't an equivalent anywhere.

"They are really an unusual animal," she said.

Atkinson said it is hard to tell what drives the business at London Drugs, whether it is a drug store or an electronics store and that could be the deciding factor on whether it can succeed in Ontario.

She said Shoppers Drug Mart is "incredibly strong" in Ontario with all the best locations and a well known brand name and would be a tough competitor for London Drugs.

"It is hard to imagine that they could really be able to carve our a significant enough business to compete," Atkinson said.

But if it is the electronics side of the business that drives the company, she said London Drugs may be able to find room for itself in Central Canada.

Powell likes to describe his stores it as a collection of speciality stores under one roof, and that's how the company is organized, with each department running its own show from high-end audio and video equipment to cosmetics.

Founded in 1945, the store began as a discount pharmacy that also carried discount photo equipment before it was bought by the privately held H.Y. Louie Co. in 1976. Since then the chain has grown to 63 stores across Western Canada with more than 7,000 employees.

Growth has slowed somewhat recently due to a shortage in Western Canada of skilled tradespeople, but Powell said he hopes to open as many as seven stores in 2007.

While many companies are rushing to become income trusts and cash in on the lucrative initial public offering market in recent years, Powell said the private route has served the company well and the company is in no need of capital to expand.

"Public companies tend to expand strictly to get the store numbers up because that's how they seem to impress their stockholders. We don't have stockholders to impress," he said.

Paul Cubbon of UBC's Sauder School of Business said it is one thing for London Drugs to do well where people are familiar with the store, but it will be a very different for them in Ontario where they are have no brand awareness in the minds of shoppers.

"If you ask somebody in Ontario or further east what London Drugs might sell, people are going to say 'a drug store,' not surprisingly because it is a very descriptive name. They might even say, 'Does it come from London, England, because we haven't heard of it in London, Ont.,' " he said.

Still, London Drugs has been successful so far and is very competitive with a reputation for very knowledgeable staff when it comes to selling electronics, Cubbon said.

"When you look at their flyers and the weighting that is given to electronics, it clearly does a good job," he said.

But the company is in no rush to open a store in Canada's most populous province.

In addition to selling consumers on the idea of a store that carries computers, cameras and toothpaste, Powell says it will mean a new distribution centre, a management centre and enough stores to justify them, a departure from its slow and steady approach so far.

"We knew when we went into Manitoba that we were stretching our distribution system to the max," he said.

"We're servicing it well, but we also know we've reached the limit of our current distribution channel."

So for now, Powell says opening in Ontario remains an if, not a when.

Jun 15, 2006, 9:55 PM
From: http://www.chainstoreage.com/magazine/story.cfm?ID=3009
Cabela's Northern Exposure
June 2006
By Katherine Field

“Mall is a dirty four-letter word. This isn’t a mall; it’s an experience,” said Sheldon Gordon, chairman of Greenwich, Conn.-based Gordon Group Holdings, and developer of North America’s next—pardon the term—megamall.

Lac Mirabel—taken from the French word for lake, of which two will be created for the mega complex—will sprawl across 332 acres of land and is expected to capture customers as far away as 100 miles from the municipality of Mirabel to shop in a complex outsized only by West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, and the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.

Gordon is no stranger to mega experiences. His company developed The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and, just recently, The Pier at Caesars in Atlantic City (N.J.), opening this summer. He’ll inject Caesar-like amenities into Lac Mirabel, including the largest indoor aquarium in Canada, a marina, a food emporium bordering the water features and a Kidtropolis entertainment facility for children. A steeply sloped and sodded roof will provide a tobogganing hill in the winter and a picnicking site in warm weather. Most significant is that the entire complex will become North America’s first green mall.

“We are doing everything possible to obtain a LEED certification,” said Gordon. “I believe in it.” A trio of power sources—windmills, solar panels and thermal pull—will power the common areas. Building framework will be native wood rather than steel. The lakes will serve as cooling towers. A retractable roof will allow the mall to be enclosed or open air. “This is going to be a true breakthrough,” said Gordon.

Northern exposure: Sidney, Neb.-based outdoor outfitter Cabela’s will experience its own breakthrough at Lac Mirabel, as the world’s largest direct marketer and leading specialty retailer of outdoor merchandise expands its retail presence beyond the United States for the first time. According to Mike Callahan, senior VP of retail operations and marketing for Cabela’s, while the decision to break into Canada was planned, the timing wasn’t. “When we decided to ramp up our retail store expansion, part of our strategy was to take a look at Canada,” he said. Had it not been for the Lac Mirabel opportunity, however, a Canadian expansion “would not have been quite as high on the priority list as it is right now,” Callahan said. “It came along, and we seized the moment.”

Slated to open in early 2008, Cabela’s in Lac Mirabel will take full advantage of its northern exposure. Interior amenities in the 125,000-sq.-ft. space will be decidedly Canadian. “The French Canadians in particular were among the first and most vigorous explorers of North America,” said Callahan, “and we’ll reflect some of that in the interior design.” Canadian-influenced taxidermy such as polar bears and fur seals will dot the interior; the aquarium will be stocked with fish native to the area. A small museum will display unique Canadian wildlife, and the deli will feature wild-game meats such as elk, caribou and bison.

Because Canadians are already avid Cabela’s catalog customers, this move into Lac Mirabel made a lot of sense, noted Callahan. But is it the start of a full-on Canadian expansion? “It’s safe to say that we have a number of pins in the map.”

Jul 8, 2006, 3:09 PM
The location on Ste-Catherine in Montréal will be a Banana Republic. We know what they're doing with the two Loblaws outpad sites in Toronto, but I wonder what they'll do with the other great locations on Queen Street (Toronto), Granville Street (Vancouver), West Edmonton Mall, Sherway Gardens (Toronto), and Chinook Centre (Calgary).

From: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/GIS.Servlets.GAMRedirect?ACTION=CHECK&user_URL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theglobeandmail.com%2Fservlet%2Fstory%2FLAC.20060620.RCABAN20%2FTPStory%2FBusiness
Ralph Lauren pulls plug on sale of Caban
Landlords' desire to reclaim space a factor

RETAILING REPORTER; With a file from Shirley Won

Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. will shutter its seven Caban home decor stores across Canada after its two major landlords helped dash hopes for any deal to sell the chain because they wanted to get back their coveted store space.

Grocery behemoth Loblaw Cos. Ltd., which houses three Caban stores next to its supermarkets, wants the prime retail space to showcase its own home fashions, industry sources said. It could also rent the stores to a non-competing retailer, they said.

Cadillac Fairview Corp. wants a more successful retailer for two more outlets that are occupied by Caban at top malls in Toronto and Calgary, the sources said.

Ralph Lauren spokeswoman Nancy Murray confirmed the chain will close by Aug. 31, but would not comment beyond saying the company wants to focus on its "core apparel and accessories business."

Big landlords can have significant clout in deals to sell a merchant, even holding up a transaction if they don't approve of the potential buyer for a sublease. Faced with a scarcity of star locations, they need to ensure that they get the best tenants for their stores.

For Loblaw, the bid to control its real estate is paramount. It is focused on expanding its non-grocery merchandise in its competitive battle with titan Wal-Mart Canada Corp. The grocer is looking for every way to shore up its operations.

The turn of events has an ironic twist to it. Joe Mimran, who came up with the Caban concept when he headed hip fashion retailer Club Monaco, is now the chief architect of Loblaw's private label home furnishings and fashion lines.

Industry insiders believe that Loblaw wants to give Mr. Mimran's goods more prominence by placing them in the spaces now occupied by Caban stores. One way or another, Loblaw wants the space to be more productive -- and not distract from its own merchandise.

The landlords' position made it more difficult for would-be buyer Stephen Granovsky, a Toronto retail consultant and investor, to make headway in cutting a deal, the sources said.

They said that Mr. Granovsky's financial partner, William Taggart of U.S. private equity firm York Management Services Inc., has backed away from a Caban transaction.

"They couldn't make it work," a source said. Mr. Granovsky would not comment yesterday. And Mr. Taggart did not return recent calls. Loblaw and Cadillac Fairview officials would not comment.

Mr. Granovsky, president of Karabus Management, has done extensive retail consulting work in North America. He is also among the new investors in discounter Saan Stores, which emerged from bankruptcy protection last year.

York Management of New Jersey owns the Northern Reflections and Regal Greetings and Gifts chains, among others, and was an investor in Kmart Canada Co. before it was sold to Hudson's Bay Co. in 1998.

Caban made a big splash when it was launched in 2000 as a stylish home fashion chain under the creative inspiration of Mr. Mimran. But it later lost its focus after he was ousted from Ralph Lauren that same year, shortly after the New York fashion retailer had acquired Mr. Mimran's Club Monaco.

Jul 8, 2006, 3:10 PM
There was an article yesterday in the National Post, but I don't have subscriber access. Here's a newish article from last fortnight.

From: www.theglobeandmail.com/s...y/National
H&M plans seven stores for Ontario and Quebec
Swedish clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB plans to open seven more stores this year in Ontario and Quebec as part of its foray into the Canadian market, the company said yesterday. The fashionable, low-priced chain launched its first H&M store in this country in 2004, and now has 16 outlets. The new shops will be part of a 100-store global expansion slated for the second half of this year. H&M, which yesterday reported an 8-per-cent increase in second-quarter profit, is also launching a new store chain under a separate brand that will seller higher-priced women and men's clothing. It did not reveal the name of the new brand, but indicated the new chain will open about 10 stores in "selected markets" next year. "H&M's ambition is to offer the best price for comparable items also in this segment," the company said in a statement. H&M also plans to enter the Far East market in 2007 by opening shops in Shanghai and Hong Kong. HMB (Stockholm) rose 11 kronor to 269.5 kronor ($41.04).

Jul 10, 2006, 6:10 PM
Espace Boutique Europea, Montréal

Where: Montreal (http://www.jaunted.com/city/Montreal), Canada (http://www.jaunted.com/country/ca)
Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 10:30:02 AM EST
Tags: Montreal (http://www.jaunted.com/tag/Montreal), Design (http://www.jaunted.com/tag/Design) (all tags (http://www.jaunted.com/taglist))

It has an unfortunate name, but Montréal's Espace Boutique Europea (http://www.europea.ca/eng/index.html), at 33 rue Notre Dame Ouest, is one of the coolest one-off retail nooks we've seen in some time. Part delicatessen, part boutique, part café, Europea is encased in an attractive, clean space.
Associated with Restaurant Europea (at 1227 de la Montagne), the Europea boutique is jammed full of hard-to-find gourmet objects. While food and drink are the core products at Europea, cosmetics and housewares are also on offer.
Highlights include the Rolland Chocolatier (http://www.rollandchocolatier.com/) chocolate collection, which include chocolate from São Tomé and Príncipe and Cuba, among other places, and Ark Land Water, an Armenian mineral water that comes in the coolest bottle we've seen in quite some time.
The overall impression is one of a retail shop in which every last object was carefully chosen. We like that.

Jul 10, 2006, 6:12 PM
i have nothing in English, but Montréal based Stokes, plans on opening 50 stores in a near future.

Jul 10, 2006, 6:25 PM
The location on Ste-Catherine in Montréal will be a Banana Republic. We know what they're doing with the two Loblaws outpad sites in Toronto, but I wonder what they'll do with the other great locations on Queen Street (Toronto), Granville Street (Vancouver), West Edmonton Mall, Sherway Gardens (Toronto), and Chinook Centre (Calgary).

What IS gonna happen to the 2 Caban locations in Toronto at the Outpads for Loblaws?

Jul 10, 2006, 8:48 PM
Grocery behemoth Loblaw Cos. Ltd., which houses three Caban stores next to its supermarkets, wants the prime retail space to showcase its own home fashions, industry sources said. It could also rent the stores to a non-competing retailer, they said.

More Loblaws home stuff, I suppose.

Jul 11, 2006, 8:01 PM
New department store for Hamilton
Hamilton Spectator

A leading department store chain, Hart Stores, is coming to Hamilton.

The department store announced today that it will be opening three new stores in Ontario next month.

The Hamilton store, to be opened on August 3, will be located on a 35,000 square foot area in the Hamilton City Centre - the former Eaton Centre.

The other two stores will be opened in Niagara's Port Colborne August 2 and in Kapuskasing August 31.

Jul 13, 2006, 7:12 PM
wow, 10 billion for Couche Tard in revenues... incredible considering how tiny it was 20 years ago.
Strong Quarter for Couche-Tard

Same-store motor fuel volume on a 52-week basis grew by 6% in the U.S.
Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. reported strong internal growth for the fourth quarter. Revenues increased 26.4% or $2.12 billion to $10.16 billion. Net earnings rose 26.4% to $196.2 million.

Same-store motor fuel volume on a 52-week basis grew by 6% in the U.S. and by 2.8% in Canada. It should be pointed out that the increase in motor fuel gross margin had a total positive impact of US$11.6 million on our operating income, net of the higher electronic payment modes related expense generated by the rise in retail prices of motor fuel.

"The fiscal year was very satisfying considering it was highlighted by solid internal growth and a significant increase in our consolidated merchandise and service gross margins which rose to 33.4%," said Alain Bouchard, chairman, president and chief executive of the Laval, Quebec-based chain. "Our fiscal 2006 performance attests to the effectiveness of our targeted marketing strategies and business model in both the U.S. and Canada. We accelerated the implementation of our IMPACT program, a true profit and growth driver for our stores, while taking advantage of outstanding opportunities to acquire small complementary networks in several strategic markets."

During the quarter, Couche-Tard also implemented its IMPACT program in 182 Company-operated stores for a total of 446 in 2006. As a result, 47.6% of the company-operated stores have now been converted to the IMPACT program. The continuation of the implementation of the IMPACT program will allow Couche- Tard considerable potential for future internal growth.
All of the Company-operated stores that were closed did not have the potential to meet Couche-Tard's contribution expectations. Most of these stores were part of the Circle K network acquired December 17, 2003.
For the 13-week period ended April 30, 2006, Couche-Tard achieved revenues of $2.64 billion, compared with $1.96 billion for the same period in fiscal 2005, an increase of 34.5% or $677.2 million. The company recorded 78.9% of its revenues in the United States, compared with 77.7% in the fourth quarter last year.

In the U.S., the growth of same-store merchandise revenues (on a 12-week standardized basis) was 4.6% while it was 4.3% in Canada. In both the U.S. and Canada, this growth is partially due to the results from investment in the IMPACT program conversions, as well as the results from the launch of new products that were well received by customers and from the implementation of its pricing strategies on certain product categories. In Canada, the growth was negatively affected by growing smuggling on tobacco products.

Also in the U.S., the growth of same-store motor fuel volume (on a 12-week standardized basis) was 5.8% in the fourth quarter of 2006 while it was 4.1% in Canada, which reflects the positive impact, in both the U.S. and Canada, of certain pricing strategies. Growth in Canada also reflects the positive consumer response in Ontario to the rebranding of several motor fuel locations, which now operate under Mac's in addition to a strong economy in Western Canada.

Gross profit grew by 22.9% or $80.4 million to $431.6 million, compared with $351.2 million for the same quarter last year. This increase is mainly due to higher sales overall and higher gross margins on merchandise and service, offset by lower motor fuel margins.

* The consolidated merchandise and service gross margin was 34.2%, up from 33% in the same period last year. The gross margin in the U.S. was 34%, up from 32.5% in the fourth quarter of the previous year, whereas in Canada, it was 34.5%, up from 34.0% for the fourth quarter of 2005. In both the U.S. and Canada, the increase in gross margin is due to improvements in purchasing terms, improved product mix as well as the launch of new products that were well received by customers and that generated higher margins.

* The motor fuel gross margin decreased to 10.96 cents per gallon, in the U.S., compared with 11.26 cents per gallon in the fourth quarter of the previous year, whereas it increased to Cdn5.11 cents per liter in Canada, from Cdn4.60 cents per liter for the same period last year. These changes primarily reflect the volatile nature of the motor fuel business and the Company's selective pricing strategy implemented in certain areas of the U.S. and Canada to stimulate sales volume.

Operating, selling, administrative and general expenses increased by $65.1 million or 23.0% over the fourth quarter of the previous year. This includes an increase of $6 million in electronic payment modes related expense, which relates to the increase in the retail price of motor fuel.
As a percentage of merchandise and service revenues, operating, selling, administrative and general expenses increased by 1.3%. This increase is primarily due to the recognition of a non-recurring charge of $5 million relating to penalties for the termination of two contracts governing ATMs in some company-operated U.S. stores.

Operating income of $57.2 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006 increased by 21.4%, or $10.1 million, over the $47.1 million earned in the same period of the previous fiscal year. Financial expenses of $8.5 million were up by $1.1 million or 14.9% over the same period last year due to a general increase in interest rates.

Net earnings stood at $32.1 million or compared with $32.5 million in the same period last year, which represents a decrease of 1.2%. By
Motor Fuel Price Volatility

The average retail price of motor fuel in Couche-Tard's U.S. markets amounted to $2.48 per gallon for the 13-week period ended April 30, 2006 compared with $2.07 per gallon for the 12-week period ended April 24, 2005. The gross margin on motor fuel revenues varies primarily as a result of product cost volatility and competition. Although motor fuel gross margins can be volatile from one quarter to the next, they generally even out on an annual basis.

For each of the last four quarters commencing with the first quarter of fiscal 2006, motor fuel gross margins for the company-operated stores in the U.S. markets stood at 14.86 cents, 17.05 cents, 17.63 cents and 10.96 cents per gallon respectively - with a weighted average of 15.14 cents per gallon for 2006 compared with 14.17 cents per gallon for 2005.
Net of electronic payment modes related expense, these same gross margins were 11.88 cents, 13.55 cents, 14.39 cents and 7.65 cents per gallon, with a weighted average of 11.88 cents per gallon for 2006 compared with 11.52 cents per gallon for 2005.

The motor fuel gross margin for the U.S. Company-operated stores was 10.96 cents per gallon (7.65 cents per gallon, net of electronic payment modes related expense) for the fourth quarter of this year compared with 11.26 cents per gallon (8.51 cents per gallon, net of electronic payment modes related expense) for the same period last year. For the fourth quarter of the current year, this decrease in the motor fuel gross margin had a negative impact of $1.6 million on Couche-Tard's operating income (positive impact of $0.2 million including the effect of the increase in the gross margin on motor fuel revenues in Company-operated stores in Canada). Including the increase in electronic payment modes related expense, excluding volume effect, the negative impact is $4.6 million ($2.9 million including the results of Company-operated stores in Canada).
Quarter Highlights

Expansion and differentiation: Couche-Tard acquired 73 Company-operated stores, 27 affiliated stores, opened another 78 and implemented its MPACT program in 446 stores in North America, well exceeding the objectives set for the fiscal year. Subsequent to fiscal year-end, the company closed the acquisition of 90 stores in Georgia and Alabama, and signed an agreement to acquire 24 others in Louisiana (June 2006).

Jul 13, 2006, 8:43 PM
I would have never imagined a place just selling cereals.

Westdale cereal cafe looks to milk trend

By Laura Thompson
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jul 13, 2006)

Westdale's got a new cafe and cereal's the specialty.

That's right, a bar that serves only breakfast cereal and you can customize your bowl.

Just walk up to the counter, order from the cupboard or select a few varieties in bulk. There isn't much else on the menu, though you can wash it all down with a cup of joe.

There's also tons of different toppings -- including gummy bears and M&Ms.

But if you think it's a strange idea, you better think again. So-called cereal bars have been popping up all over the U.S.

Hamilton's just one of the first Canadian cities to hop on the breakfast cereal bandwagon.

The Cereal House, located a few doors down from the Westdale Theatre, pours its first bowl tomorrow. Nazli Eroglu and her husband, Ali, decided to launch a cereal bar after learning how trendy it's become for Americans -- especially university students -- to eat cereal outside their homes.

Eroglu said her love of cereal inspired the idea, though her friends said it wouldn't work. At that point, she didn't even know about the cereal-eating habits of our neighbours to the south.

"I asked some friends, they said, 'Forget it.' I was so disappointed," she said. "Then a few months later I told my husband and looked on the Internet and saw in the U.S. that everyone was eating cereal."

The couple hopes to attract McMaster University students for a bowl on their way to and from classes.

Matt Gardhouse, a 21-year-old McMaster student and self-proclaimed cereal lover said he finds the idea a little weird, though he's tempted to try it.

"It would have to be a place that's nice to study. That would draw me more than a bowl of cereal," he said.

Like its American counterparts, The Cereal House will offer a variety of cold and hot cereals. For about $4, you get a large bowl that includes a topping and the milk. Purists can order a no-frills bowl. There's Vector for the health nuts. And risk-takers can mix brands or add sweets to satisfy their palate.

There are roughly 30 kinds of cereal -- the same ones you'd find lining grocery store shelves -- and most are kept in a cupboard similar to Mom's.

Nazli Eroglu and her husband Ali hope to attract Mac students for a bowl of cereal on their way to class.

Jul 13, 2006, 9:33 PM
Cool! I love the idea!

Jul 14, 2006, 3:20 PM
It started in NYC a few years back. There's been a cereal bar in BCE Place in Toronto since earlier this year.

Jul 14, 2006, 3:42 PM
It started in NYC a few years back. There's been a cereal bar in BCE Place in Toronto since earlier this year.
IS Vector a good cereal, and where in the USA can I buy it?

Jul 14, 2006, 8:11 PM
IS Vector a good cereal, and where in the USA can I buy it?

That's a question for the nice folks at Kellogs.

Jul 14, 2006, 10:08 PM
IS Vector a good cereal, and where in the USA can I buy it?
It's good, and no need to head to the us to buy some, they are sold everywhere

Rusty van Reddick
Jul 15, 2006, 2:42 AM
^if you haven't noticed, Neilson lives in Alabama.

Jul 15, 2006, 4:11 AM
^if you haven't noticed, Neilson lives in Alabama.
Thank You; Some ppl tend to miss that part.

Jul 15, 2006, 10:21 PM
I don't like Vector, it's too sugary for me. Reminds me of Frosted Flakes (without the Frosting;))

Jul 16, 2006, 12:20 AM
^if you haven't noticed, Neilson lives in Alabama.

i indeed havent noticed, my bad

Jul 16, 2006, 3:33 AM
i indeed havent noticed, my bad
So, how can I get Vector short of driving up to Canada and getting the cereal personally?

Jul 16, 2006, 8:26 PM
Edmonton ideal incubator for independent retailers
Western Canada's retail champ result of key factors

Gary Lamphier
The Edmonton Journal

Few people think of Edmonton as a retailing powerhouse. That's supposed to be the domain of major eastern cities like Toronto or Montreal. But that's exactly what Edmonton is becoming.

With a regional population of barely one million people, E-town has given birth to a dozen national or regional retail chains, including such firms as The Brick, Katz Group, AutoCanada, Liquor Stores, Liquor Barn, Planet Organic, Running Room, Booster Juice, Fountain Tire and XS Cargo.

That's more than any other city west of Ontario.

Whether you're talking car dealerships or booze outlets, drugstore chains or big-box furniture and appliance stores, organic food outlets or purveyors of fruit drinks, Edmonton is Western Canada's retail champ.

I used to think this was simply an oddity. A curious byproduct, perhaps, of this prairie burg's unlikely status as home to both the world's largest indoor shopping mall, West Edmonton Mall, and the country's biggest power centre, South Edmonton Common.

But that alone doesn't explain it. Clearly, there's a confluence of several other key factors here that make Edmonton an ideal incubator for independent, fast-growing retailers.

Among them: lofty population growth; high disposable-income levels; youthful demographics; record housing starts; lack of a provincial sales tax; low retail rental rates; long winters, which make retail stores popular gathering places; and an entrepreneurial business culture that's far less reliant than Calgary or Vancouver on conventional head-office jobs.

Given that, it's little wonder that Edmonton consistently boasts one of the highest retail-sales growth rates in Canada. Here's a snapshot of just a few of the key retail players that are based here:

- The Brick Group Income Fund is Canada's largest independent furniture, appliance and home electronics retailer. Its national store network -- operating under such banners as The Brick, United Furniture and HomeShow Canada -- generated sales of more than $1.2 billion last year. The 35-year-old company, which expanded into Quebec in 2005, expects to add nearly 20 new outlets in 2006, boosting its total store count to 212. At the same time, it's consolidating most of its retail banners under the Brick name and improving its distribution system.

Company chairman and founder Bill Comrie took The Brick public in July 2004 on the TSX. The Brick's units closed Friday at $10.10, giving the company a market value of about $547 million.

- Katz Group is one of North America's 10 largest drugstore chains, with annual sales of some $6.5 billion. Its sprawling, 1,800-store network operates under a variety of banners, including Pharma Plus, Rexall, Medicine Shoppe, Guardian and I.D.A. It also operates the Snyders drugstore chain in Minnesota.

Fortune magazine ranks the company's media-shy founder, owner and CEO, Daryl Katz, as one of the world's 500 wealthiest people, with a personal fortune estimated at some $1.6 billion US.

Although most of Katz Group's corporate and administrative staff are located at its flagship office in Metro Toronto, Katz and a small group of senior execs are based here in Edmonton.

- AutoCanada Income Fund, which operates a chain of franchised auto dealerships across six provinces stretching from B.C. to Nova Scotia, generated revenues of $628 million in 2005.

By completing a $110-million IPO on the TSX in May -- issuing nearly 11 million units at $10 a pop -- AutoCanada established itself as Canada's first publicly traded, multiple-location, franchised auto-dealership network. The units have performed well since, closing Friday at $11.44 apiece.

AutoCanada's 14 dealers sold some 19,000 Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Hyundai vehicles last year, while processing 204,000 service and collision repair orders. The company intends to grow by acquisition and by opening additional franchised auto dealerships.

- Liquor Stores Income Fund, Alberta's largest liquor retailer, operates the Liquor Depot and Liquor World chains. The company went public at $10 per unit on the TSX in September 2004, and it has grown rapidly since.

The 80-store chain reported sales of $38 million in the first quarter of 2006 -- up about 42 per cent versus the prior year -- and it's well on its way to reaching its ultimate goal of 100 retail outlets.

Liquor Stores' units have also fared well, closing Friday at $18.95 on the TSX, giving the company a market value of more than $200 million.

- Planet Organic, whose shares trade on the TSX Venture Exchange, is another fast-growing, acquisition-oriented Edmonton-based retailer that's making noises across the country.

Planet Organic's natural food stores are located in Edmonton, Victoria, Calgary, Port Coquitlam and Halifax, and it also operates 48 natural-health outlets under the Sangster's banner. A third company unit, Trophic Canada, is a leading maker of natural supplements.

Planet Organic has reported five straight profitable quarters. Its shares closed Friday at $2.37 on the TSX-V.


© The Edmonton Journal 2006

Jul 16, 2006, 8:44 PM
The Brick can just go to hell, worst service ever.

Jul 16, 2006, 8:51 PM
Don't pay a cent till 3055!

Jul 16, 2006, 8:56 PM
Don't pay a cent till 3055!

actually they're pretty bad in quebec in regards to financing, they barely had 12 months.

every retailer over here has 36 months.

Jul 16, 2006, 11:25 PM
The Brick can just go to hell, worst service ever.

I hate the Brick... but after spending three or four hours this past week trying to find a certain style of hammock I broke down and went to the Brick at WEM. Out of the nearly two dozen furnature stores I've been to the most helpful--by far-- was at the Brick.

Jul 23, 2006, 11:05 AM
From: http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1153566556724&call_pageid=968350130169&col=969483202845
An interior decorator called Ed
cheap un-chic | In tribute to Ed Mirvish on his 92nd birthday, we prove you can furnish a bachelor pad for $500 at Honest Ed's, and have a total kitsch immersion in the process.
Jul. 23, 2006. 01:00 AM

You need a toaster oven, a new dress shirt and some aspirin. What do you do?
In any other city, you make three trips, but in Toronto, you go to Honest Ed's.
On the occasion of Ed Mirvish's 92nd birthday, the store with the garish, 23,000-bulb sign at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst is still evolving as the emporium of all things. As of May, it added an immigration centre to its list of goods and services, which also includes a dental office and a beauty salon.
Of course, it's still necessary to negotiate the maze of counters, half-floors, little nooks and mirrors that give the place its charm but also frustrate first-timers to no end.
In theory, there's no reason ever to shop at another store. So the Star decided to put that theory to the test. The mission: furnish a bachelor apartment using only items found at Honest Ed's, and do it for less than $500.
Rats. Guess that $6,500 antique Buddhist shrine by the Pepsi and paper towels will have to wait.
First things first: the big-ticket items. At just over the $350 mark, most of those are taken care of, including desk ($99), DVD player ($49), coffee table ($89) and TV ($149). The DVD player even has a built-in karaoke machine — that staple of any decent bachelor pad.
As for a futon sofa-bed, the store was out of stock, so our bachelor will be sleeping on the floor, albeit with some extra cash in hand.
Should be a cinch coming in under $500.
But as most locals know, it's easy to get distracted at Honest Ed's. There's something about that store that makes the desire for kitsch overpowering.
Maybe it's the black and white movie stars of decades past staring at you from behind the '50s-era cash registers. Liberace and Tony Bennett are Ed's favourites, says store manager Russell Lazar, who's tagging along on the first leg of the mission, pausing at points of interest along the way.
Whatever the reason, it's hard not to find yourself wanting that statue of a cartoon pig in a police uniform, or those fun little birds that keep bobbing for water.
Then there are the antiques, which are out of everyone's price range but add to the distraction anyway. Every so often, though, some eccentric buyer will surprise the staff with a big purchase.
"We sold a couple of these stoves recently," says Lazar, pointing to a group of black cast-iron relics. "A guy from Thunder Bay who actually collects these came down and bought them."
Lazar explains that a lot of the antiques come from former Mirvish theatre productions. "We have people from all over buy our antiques; we even used to sell some on eBay. People as far as Las Vegas would buy them."
The iron stoves seem out of place among all the gilded wood of oriental statues, rickshaws and miniature dragon boats. Honest Ed's is all about weird juxtapositions— a few years back they even had a snack bar in the middle of the ladies' wear section.
Consider the objet on view outside the linens department. It's hard to believe anyone not on a serious drug trip would be in the market for this giant cuckoo clock adorned with a deranged-looking moose head. He stares down at passersby with bug eyes and a maniacal grin, and if you've got 20-foot-high ceilings and $15,000, you can take him home with you.
If you're a rich eccentric, but a little more conservative, you can get a $500 machine that turns a penny into a flat pendant with an inscription of the Lord's Prayer. Sounds pretty steep, especially for a machine that no longer works, but Lazar insists it's a true Honest Ed's bargain.
But back to the task at hand: furnishing that apartment. In the linens department, the pillows were printed with bunny ears or wacky-looking animals, and the sheets felt chintzy, but at $5 and $8 respectively, who cares. And at just $12, you can get a lovely set of brown, floral printed drapes that would go great with a puke-green carpet.
It's still necessary to negotiate the maze of counters, half-floors, little nooks and mirrors that give Honest Ed's its wacky charm
So, the mission continues to be a success. Perhaps it wasn't that much of a challenge in the first place. Honest Ed's customers certainly didn't seem to think so.
"Oh, yeah, I think it's doable," long-time shopper James Gow says the of $500 limit. For him, the real challenge of Honest Ed's is making it out of there without getting lost. "But people like it. I think a lot of the people who come here from other countries are used to the hodgepodge."
"When I get here, I'm laughing because the prices are so cheap," says Osinowo Kunle, who's been coming to the store for the past 18 years. "But I also really like this place because it's different. It's not so impersonal. It's like the markets back home in Nigeria."
Moving through the store, Lazar pauses on one landing, pointing to a picture of a greasy-haired, stubbly, toothless old man. Underneath his photo, a caption reads, "Honest Ed welcomes you."
"Back in the '50s, before he became a public figure, people used to think this guy was Honest Ed," says Lazar, grinning. "But his name was Dick. He was a homeless man who helped Ed clean up around the store. He had a bit of a drinking problem, but he was proud to work here and Ed always kept him on."
One night, when Dick had been picked up after a bender, police actually mistook him for Mirvish. They even called Ed's mother in the middle of the night to say he'd been arrested.
Spend any time in Honest Ed's and you realize that, besides the kitsch and the bargains, a lot of the charm comes from the people who shop and work there — many of whom have relationships with the place going back decades.
Take Lazar, for example. He's been working there for 40 years. "I started when I was 5," he likes to tell people (but he does not like to divulge his age). Even though he's a manager who spends a lot of his time in an office, the customers know him well.
"Aren't you Russell Lazar?" a smiling woman asks as she passes us.
"Well, hi, how are you?" he answers warmly.
"You know, I've been coming here 30 years, but I didn't recognize you," she says. "You were a lot skinnier."
Stella Cordoso has been at Ed's for 24 years, and says she'd never dream of working for anybody but Mirvish as she shows off the gold watch he gave her for her 20th anniversary at the store.
"I learned all my English working here," she says with a slight Eastern European accent. "Now, when there's a customer who doesn't speak English well, they always ask, `Where's Stella?'
Given that newcomers to Canada have long been a big part of Mirvish's clientele, Cordoso gets to practise her Polish, Russian, Czech and Ukrainian pretty regularly. She says hearing a familiar language makes the store especially homey for a lot of newcomers.
So much so that Leslie Lakos, the full-time immigration consultant, says he doesn't feel the least bit out of place at his little desk in the middle of the department store.
This store was built on the concept of immigrants," he says with a smile, leaning in for emphasis. "Think about it. Why wouldn't you sell meat in a kitchen?"
Newcomers are a part of the clientele that Lazar says is close to Mirvish's heart. In his office, among the awards, letters from prime ministers and world leaders, antique swords and photos of celebrities, you'll find two seashells sitting on a postcard from a former customer. "Dear Mister Ed," it says. "These two shells are from my home village. I wanted you to have them."
On the way down from Mirvish's office, the remaining items for the apartment get taken care of and, lo and behold, there's $30 left on the tab.
Just enough for a bust of Elvis. The only question is whether to get the shiny bronze model, or the rosy-cheeked, blue-suede-lapelled version of the King.
"It's strange, but they're one of our biggest-selling items," says Lazar, who clearly has an anecdote for just about every item in every department of the store. "Once, a couple came in here to get their wedding pictures taken.
"They wanted a souvenir and asked for our kitschiest item. So we gave them one of these, and Ed even signed it."

Jul 27, 2006, 9:48 PM
From: http://www.canada.com/components/print.aspx?id=34bf638b-b966-4766-bdf3-cb8492b572d6&k=91067
RONA's western expansion levels home improvement field

Carla Wilson
Times Colonist

Thursday, July 27, 2006

CREDIT: Bruce Stotesbury, Times Colonist
Chief executive Robert Dutton will join Langford Mayor Stew Young and other city and business officials to open RONA's latest big-box home improvement store in Langford this morning. Dutton promises continued investment in B.C., including new stores for Vancouver Island.
Hardware powerhouse RONA opens its latest store in Langford today, closing in on its goal of 700 stores country-wide and $7 billion in sales by 2007.

The publicly traded, Quebec-based company holds 15 per cent of the market share in the home improvement sector, putting it in a dead heat with U.S. giant Home Depot, Robert Dutton, president and CEO of Rona Inc., told the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

Western expansion is part of Rona's growth strategy, which includes the capital region, said Dutton.

"Over the next 20 years, it is estimated that the region will need to house and employ almost one-quarter more people than it does today," Dutton said. "Good news for those of us in the business of selling building materials and renovation supplies."

The new 110,000-square-foot RONA Home and Garden big-box store at 850 Langford Parkway carries 40,000 products and is creating more than 200 jobs. It includes a garden centre, green house, and design boutiques.

The company-owned store in Langford compliments the existing RONA Baywest Hardware store at 220 Bay St. Another big box store is planned for the Island, Dutton said, but would not say where it would go. Rona is already established in Duncan, Nanaimo, Cobble Hill, and Campbell River.

RONA has three types of stores -- big-box, specialized, and traditional; and three types of ownership -- corporate, franchise and affiliate stores which have local roots and help the company serve different regions of Canada.

Not including the purchase of the Revy Home Centres chain, RONA has invested $100 million in B.C. to build new stores and renovate existing ones since 2001, Dutton said.

Add in all the western provinces and RONA's investment in the past two years is nearly $200 million, creating more than 1,000 jobs, he added.

As of today RONA, a sponsor of the 2010 Olympics, has 39 stores in B.C., Dutton said. "RONA has chosen Western Canada as a key growth platform, and we have implemented an aggressive strategy to grow our presence in B.C., Alberta and the Prairies."

The fast-growing company plans to invest $15 million annually for the next five years in this province, Dutton said in an interview after his luncheon speech. Growth is planned to come through new affiliate stores, building and renovation existing stores, as well as putting up new ones, and buying more existing stores.

As RONA looks ahead, it is in a marketplace with multinationals. Its 600 stores are found across the country in communities of all sizes and with stores of differing sizes. Dutton said 85 per cent of Canadians live less than 30 minutes from a RONA store.

Even if the new-housing bubble bursts, Dutton said that 72 per cent of existing houses in Canada are more than 20 years old, meaning there is a huge market for renovation. "People realize their best investment is their house."

Customer satisfaction, strong partners throughout its supply chain, a large and efficient distribution network, an e-commerce division, a business plan setting it apart in the marketplace, and being able to respond quickly to changing consumer needs are part of its formula for success, Dutton said.

RONA kicked off its acquisition moves in the early 1980s, mainly in Quebec, followed by more buys in 2000. The next year it bought the Revy chain. Acquisitions have continued this year with RONA buying Curtis Lumber, a B.C. firm.

RONA started as a purchasing and marketing association for a group of independent hardware stores and has reinvented itself a number of times, Dutton said.

RONA is part of the third-largest purchasing group in the global hardware section, giving it the opportunity to obtain supplies from the domestic and international market. Even so, in 2004, 90 per cent of supplies were bought from companies in Canada.

Jul 27, 2006, 9:49 PM
From: http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1153950610576&call_pageid=968350072197&col=969048863851
Sears to close another floor
Toronto, Vancouver stores scale back
Company struggling, target of takeover bid
Jul. 27, 2006. 06:47 AM

Sears Canada is closing another floor in its flagship Eaton Centre store in downtown Toronto, the company confirmed yesterday.
It's the second time Sears has downsized the former Eaton store since buying it from the failing T. Eaton Co. in 1999.
Sears, which has been struggling and is the target of a takeover bid, said it's also closing two floors in its downtown Vancouver location. That store was also part of the iconic Eaton's chain.
Both locations will now have a total of five floors each, Sears Canada spokesperson Vince Power said yesterday. A typical Sears store has two or fewer floors, he noted.
The company believes the move will make the stores more productive without hurting sales, Power said.
"We're doing some compacting," he said, noting that in Toronto electronics is moving to the same floor as menswear and two floors of women's wear are being combined on one floor. "Every category will still be represented."
There is no impact on staffing levels in the stores, he added. The plans were announced internally last March, he said. The company has yet to decide what to do with the empty floors.
The move will cut lighting and cleaning costs, he noted.
A spokesperson for the landlord, Cadillac Fairview Corp., said it doesn't comment on tenant matters.
Sears' majority shareholder, Sears Holdings Corp. in the U.S., has made a bid for the rest of the company in order to take it private.
A group of minority shareholders has complained about the offer and asked Ontario's securities watchdog to investigate. A decision is pending.
The company owns 220 stores across the country.

Jul 27, 2006, 10:18 PM
i remember reading a story or saw it on TV about how Edmonton has been the testing ground for US retailer/restaurants etc wanting to test out the Canadian market

they showed some Texas based movie theatre chain that opened a place in edmonton and it was doing well - is it still around?

and some restaurants that you can only find in the states and than only in Edmonton - i forget which ones but they liked Edmonton for some reason

Jul 29, 2006, 10:58 AM
I think West Ed being such a destination helps, as well as the high wealth and education.

crooked rain
Jul 29, 2006, 2:11 PM
Plus its isolation from other cities means they have captive demographics.

Given its mix of blue and wite collar, its sizable university population and its relative ethnic diversity, it must contain a lot of the market segments that companies are looking to analyze.

Jul 29, 2006, 6:35 PM
Any major retailer that has come into Canada in the last 25 years has come in through Southern Ontario (most often) or Alberta because of its affluence and desireable demographics.

Jul 30, 2006, 1:10 PM
From: http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1154037039022&call_pageid=968350072197&col=969048863851
Core sees big-box boom
Jul. 28, 2006. 06:56 AM

Where condos are built, stores are soon to follow.
The condo boom in downtown Toronto is fuelling a renaissance in retailing. And that's attracting the attention of some big retail chains more commonly associated with suburban shopping centres.
Canadian Tire and Best Buy both plan to open stores this fall a stone's throw from the Eaton Centre.
Home Depot has long coveted a site in the downtown core and is considering several, including one near Queen St. W. and Portland Ave.
And grocery chain Loblaw Cos. Ltd. has two downtown locations on hold, one in the former Maple Leaf Gardens hockey shrine, the other near Bathurst St. and Lakeshore Blvd.
But while there's no lack of retailers who want a presence downtown, the trick for many of them is finding the right site at the right price, experts said.
"Downtown Toronto is a very successful market — there's a huge number of people living here and a huge number of people working here — if you know how to capture it," said John Archer, a retail consultant with JC Williams Group in Toronto.
Compared to the typical suburban power centre, downtown rents are higher, square footages are smaller and often there's little or no parking space, which can be a problem if you sell things like lumber or 50-inch plasma screen TVs.
Garden tool and hardware retailer Lee Valley Tools has adapted its business model in several ways since opening its first downtown store, on King St. W., near Bathurst St., last April.
A few customers complained about the lack of parking, said Mark Williams, vice-president of retail operations for the small Ottawa-based chain.
But many more were grateful the small 13-store chain had opened a store that was closer than Steeles Ave. or Morningside Dr., he said.
A "surprising" number of customers arrive on bicycles, he said, which prompted the retailer to ask the city to install more bike racks.
As well, the store tends to sell more small hardware items and fewer large gardening tools than its suburban counterparts, he added.
The retailer is also reconsidering its operating hours to accommodate the higher demand for early-evening shopping, he said.
Lee Valley's experience isn't unusual.
The downtown market is different, said Tony Hernandez, director of Ryerson University's centre for the study of commercial activities.
"It's a much more complex market than the suburban mall," Hernandez said.
People tend to live in smaller quarters. There's also a larger commuter population, which tends to shop more on their lunch-hour or right after work.
Best Buy said its new store, on the southeast corner of Bay and Dundas Sts., will offer more delivery services and stock more small items than a typical suburban location.
"We're well aware that with an urban store, you've got some different customers," said company spokesperson Lori DeCou. "You have commuter customers who may be making smaller purchases, or using the store to research purchases they will make on the weekend at their local store.
"They're on a tighter schedule. Maybe they're on their coffee break. So, there are issues around how easy we make it for them to navigate the store and get through the checkout line," she said.
The company plans to open one of its largest stores in the city in the "Ryerson Project" now under construction. The building, which is being co-developed by Eaton Centre owner Cadillac Fairview Corp., will house Ryerson University's new business school, as well as retail and residential units.
Canadian Tire said it's opening an 85,000 square foot store in that location, also one of its largest, as well as a 10,000 square foot Marks Work Wearhouse, this fall.
The push is also coming from the retailers themselves, he said. Many American retailers who came to Canada in the early '90s did what they had done at home and set up shop in the booming suburbs.
Now, some of those markets are saturated while downtown Toronto has witnessed a building boom.
"Unlike a lot of other North American cities, Toronto has a lot of residential development," said Hernandez.

Aug 1, 2006, 9:14 PM
From: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/financialpost/story.html?id=aa1c7953-a6cb-42fa-8393-8f3a941d1340&k=57405
Carter's to open Canadian chain
Mal Coven has pact with kids' clothier

Hollie Shaw
Financial Post

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Carter's, the top-selling baby clothing brand in the U.S. and owner of the B'Gosh clothing line for kids, will begin opening retail outlet stores in Canada next year.

The Financial Post has learned that Mal Coven, founder of the defunct discount chain BiWay, has reached an agreement with Atlanta-based Carter's Inc. to open a children's clothing and accessory chain across Canada under the Carter's/OshKosh banner.

The first three OshKosh and Carter's co-branded outlets will open in August, 2007, a spokesperson for the Coven Group said.

As many as 29 of the big-box outlet stores could open over five years under both brands or the Carter's name alone, depending on how Canadians react to one of the fastest-growing childrens' brands in the United States.

The news comes three years after the successful Canadian entry of U.S. retailer The Children's Place. Industry sources say infant clothing and kidswear is a stable-growth category in Canada with ample room for consolidation.

"Carter's is a very big line and [Mr. Coven] is a serious operator," Fred Waks, chief operating officer of real estate developer RioCan REIT, said in an interview. RioCan is working with Mr. Coven to lease a number of big-box sites.

The Children's Place has more than tripled its market share to 2.4% of the Canadian juvenile market since the U.S. retailer opened boutiques across the country in 2003, according to market researcher Trendex North America. The retailer has 54 Canadian stores.

"Even though the [Canadian] birth rate isn't climbing, it is a good market because of immigration," said retail consultant David Howell, president of Associate Marketing International.

"Historically, a lot of the childrenswear in Canada was made in Canada. That has dried up and a lot of it has gone private label," where retailers commission their own exclusive clothing lines through mass apparel manufacturers, generally based in Asia.

"The onset of Children's Place almost pushed Please Mum [a Vancouver-based chain with 80 stores] back into the closet. Children's Place has significant penetration but they are still growing -- they are a company that is cautious by nature. A second player will be very good for the market overall."

Osh Kosh is currently sold at specialty chains in Canada and at department stores such as The Bay. There are 138 Osh Kosh outlet stores across the U.S.

Carter, the top baby apparel seller in the U.S. with a 30% market share, has 154 Carter outlet stores and 32 specialty stores in traditional shopping malls. It is not widely available in Canada.

Analysts say the brands complement each other: 60% of Carter's offerings, which include sleepwear, accessories and play clothes for children, are for ages two and under; 65% of OshKosh's sales come from apparel for children over 2, predominantly within the 4 to 7 age range.

"Carter's has found a way to make the traditionally challenging and competitive children's apparel industry highly profitable," said a February research report from Credit Suisse First Boston, which predicts the company will double its annual sales by 2010 to US$2.2-billion.

"Comparable Carter's product often sells at only a slight premium to private brands but there is a large difference in both product quality and consumer trust in the brand."

Carter's, which acquired rival OshKosh B'Gosh Inc. a year ago for US$312-million, reported last week that second-quarter profit rose 64% to US$9-million. Sales increased 44% to US$574-million. Excluding OshKosh sales, sales rose 8.3%.

Canadian apparel sales for kids 14 and under rose 4% to $1.38-billion in 2005, according to Trendex North America. The category has grown steadily for the last five years.

Aug 1, 2006, 11:55 PM
New department store opens downtown
Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton's downtown has Hart.

The new discount department store opens its doors Thursday in the Hamilton City Centre.

It's creating a buzz for shoppers and a reason for centre manager Ana Cacilhas to smile.

"It's huge. It's an anchor," she said, noting that she used to work downtown and used to browse Eaton's in its heyday.

"It's exciting to be participating in the revitalization of the downtown."

Along with Hart, city hall staff is making the Hamilton City Centre its temporary home. Other stores and restaurants have flocked to Fercan, which owns the building, and Cacilhas said by the New Year the renovated mall will have a 90 per cent occupancy rate.

There are some new changes next door at Jackson Square too, with expanded stores and a renovated gym.

Aug 2, 2006, 5:46 PM
Did anyone know Canadian Tire is opening a flagship store at Toronto Eaton Centre?

It was the paper yesterday.

Aug 2, 2006, 8:45 PM
Mike, it's also in this thread, three posts before yours.

Aug 3, 2006, 12:20 AM
New department store opens downtown
Hamilton Spectator

"It's exciting to be participating in the revitalization of the downtown."

Along with Hart, city hall staff is making the Hamilton City Centre its temporary home. Other stores and restaurants have flocked to Fercan, which owns the building, and Cacilhas said by the New Year the renovated mall will have a 90 per cent occupancy rate.

There are some new changes next door at Jackson Square too, with expanded stores and a renovated gym.

Here's the rendering that was released today showing one section what City Centre will look like after the renovation.


Aug 9, 2006, 9:02 AM
ooh i have heard of carters

Aug 9, 2006, 9:41 PM
From: http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1155073815134&call_pageid=968350072197&col=969048863851
Ruling blocks Sears takeover
Secret bank deals improper, OSC saysU.S. bidder plans court challenge
Aug. 9, 2006. 06:37 AM

Sears Holdings Corp. says it will appeal a regulatory decision that has effectively killed its $18 a share offer for Sears Canada.
The move came late yesterday after the Ontario Securities Commission ruled Sears Holdings' offer violated provincial disclosure laws and could not go ahead.
The company broke the rules when it made secret deals with some shareholders, including two major Canadian banks, in exchange for their support, the regulators said.
The banks were cleared of any wrongdoing.
The regulators left the door open for Sears Holdings to come back with a new offer, but observers said the company's value-conscious chairman Ed Lampert might be unwilling to raise his price.
"Sears Holdings is disappointed with the decision," company spokesperson Chris Braithwaite said in a statement late yesterday. "We believe that we, as well as the Canadian banks who agreed to support the transaction, acted in full compliance with Ontario securities laws."
The U.S. retailer, which already owns more than 50 per cent of Sears Canada, said late yesterday it would appeal the ruling to the Divisional Court of Ontario.
The statement was just the latest in a series of tough tactics the Lampert-led company has employed since launching its takeover bid last December at $16.86 a share. Lampert wants to take Sears Canada private, which will cut company costs.
After less than 10 per cent of minority shareholders accepted the offer, Lampert was forced to sweeten the bid last April to $18 a share. That still fell $2 to $3 a share below what Sears Canada's then independent board of directors said was fair.
But Lampert said he had most of the votes sewn up in so-called "support agreements" with certain unnamed shareholders.
Three powerful U.S. hedge funds protested to Ontario regulators, who agreed that Sears Holdings should have disclosed the terms and conditions of those agreements.
During a three-day hearing last month, the commission learned that Sears Holdings had offered to delay the closing date to the end of the year, a measure that would save the Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Nova Scotia about $122 million in taxes.
The commission also ruled that a separate deal Sears Holdings made with U.S.-based real estate firm Vornado Realty Trust should have been disclosed.
The banks were cleared of any wrongdoing, including allegations that the Bank of Nova Scotia was in a conflict of interest situation as it was advising Sears Holdings while owning Sears Canada shares.
The regulators' decision represented a major victory for three U.S. hedge funds, led by William Ackman of Pershing Capital Management LLC, which had complained to the regulators.
Ackman said he felt "vindicated" by the decision, adding that "it will benefit all of the minority shareholders in Sears Canada."
Market watchers agreed the decision sends an important signal.
"There's no doubt this is a black eye for Sears Holdings," said Ramy Elitzur, a professor of financial analysis at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. "The OSC took it on and basically stopped the merger."
Sears isn't the only Canadian company with an unequal share structure, Elitzur said. Too often, minority shareholders are treated unequally in deals like this, he said.
The Bank of Nova Scotia said it was pleased with the findings. "The OSC found that Scotia Capital and the bank of Nova Scotia weren't involved in any conflict of interest," said bank spokesperson Frank Switzer.
Both the bank and its subsidiary Scotia Capital were involved on opposite sides of the transaction, which is not an unusual practice in Canadian banking circles.
If the commission had ruled this practice was a problem, it could have presented a challenge for Canada's banks.
The regulators left the way clear for Sears Holding to submit a new takeover bid that reveals the terms and conditions of the support agreements. But those shares must be excluded from the final tally, the commission said, a measure that could tip the balance in favour of the hedge funds.
The banks owned 7.9 million Sears Canada shares between them, while the hedge funds at one time had an interest in 14 million shares altogether.
The Royal Bank declined to comment on the ruling, saying it was still reviewing the details.

Aug 14, 2006, 1:53 AM
Habib Bank targets Canada and China as part of int'l expansion

DUBAI — Habib Bank Limited, the largest private sector bank in Pakistan, plans to expand its international operations and has applied for a licence to start banking services in Canada, China and other potential markets.

In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times on the sidelines of a retail banking conference in Dubai yesterday, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Habib Bank Limited (HBL) R. Zakir Mahmood said the bank will also strengthen its base in the UAE and other Gulf markets to ensure quality services and new products for customers.

“The UAE is one of the most important markets for us. We have been offering banking services in the country for the last 40 years and currently operate eight branches mainly in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.”

“We are building franchise here. We are investing in technology and infrastructure and will offer a broader level of products to our customers through an asset management company,” Mahmood said. In reply to a question, HBL president said expatriates are playing a key role in promoting and strengthening Pakistan’s economy.

“Expatriates are an important segment of our business and we are in process to offer them a wide range of savings products through our newly formed asset management company,” Mahmood said.

“The bank is facilitating expatriates in sending remittances back to their home in minimum possible time through its 1,425 bank branches across the country,” he added.

Bank listing: About the listing of Habib Bank on Karachi Stock Exchange, Zakir Mahmood said, “We are going to be listed on Karachi Stock Exchange as a part of a post-privatisation plan.”

“The government of Pakistan will launch an initial public offering to offload 10 per cent or more shares of the bank in first phase,” he said. "At present, our focus is to list the bank on Karachi Stock Exchange," he added.

He said the banking sector has made significant progress in Pakistan during recent time in line with economic growth of the country.

Pakistan recorded a 6.6 per cent GDP growth during last financial year and it is among one of the world's fastest growing economies.

HBL profits: "We have almost doubled our profits during 2005 as the bank recorded $160 million after tax earnings during the year," he said. "The bank noted steady growth in recent years and achieved a high level of efficiency to stay ahead in a highly competitive financial market," he added.

"We are expanding our portfolio of business to increase our market share. We will offer new insurance related products to customers. We are a major financier in the growing power sector and infrastructure related projects in Pakistan," Mahmood explained. "We are also focusing on Islamic finance as it is a growing mode of financing these days."

There are currently around 40 banks operating in the country. Top five banks led by National Bank of Pakistan and Habib Bank Limited control 53 per cent of the total assets and 57 per cent of deposits. Habib Bank is the largest private bank of Pakistan with a global presence in 25 countries.

Foreign banks entry: About the entry of international and regional banks in Pakistan, HBL president said it is good for the economy and will generate competition among the local banks .

Standard Chartered Bank recently acquired majority shares and the management control of Union Bank Limited. The banking sector people said that Standard Chartered entry into Pakistan banking sector will pave the way for several such deals.

"Renewed interest of international and regional banks in Pakistan's banking sector is a reflection of growth prospects of economy and strong outlook of banking sector," Mahmood said.

"There is room for more international players. Competition is welcome and healthy for banking sector," he opined.

"Entry of foreign players in banking sector will benefit the consumers and they will have access to a variety of products," he added.

Replying to a question, he said cost of credit is affordable in Pakistan and that fact is evident from the loans disbursement not only in traditional sector but also in non-traditional sector like agriculture, consumer financing and SMEs.

Earlier, senior managers of HBL attended a day-long annual conference on retail banking here at a local hotel. Some 250 senior officials from retail banking came here from all parts of Pakistan to discuss and formulate the bank's strategy in retail banking. The conference will conclude today


Aug 14, 2006, 1:59 AM
Ontario grocers ready for battle

It is 9:30 on a Thursday morning in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart store at Warden and Eglinton in west Scarborough. The atmosphere is relatively quiet. There are still parking spots near the main entrance. The lineups at the cash registers are still reasonable.

It is the calm before the storm.

By Saturday, the store will be jammed with shoppers looking for deals on everything from the latest CD from Crazy Frog to the best-selling laundry detergent, Tide.

From a standing start just over a decade ago, Wal-Mart has come to own more than 50 per cent of the market for general merchandise in Canada, everything from tea towels to kids' clothes. It is now Canada's single largest non-food retailer, with an estimated $13 billion a year in sales.

In its wake, it has left a string of failed competitors, everyone from the upscale Eaton's department store chain to the deep discounter Bi-Way.

Now, it's preparing to take on the supermarket industry in a battle for control of Canada's $70 billion a year grocery business.

By this time early next year, the Scarborough store will be one of seven Wal-Marts — all in Ontario — that carry everything from lettuce to chicken legs. If successful, the Mississauga-based company is expected to open many, many more.

"Many Canadians are buying their dried goods in our pantry already," said Wal-Mart Canada Corp. spokesperson Andrew Pelletier, referring to the growing amount of non-perishable foods its stores have been offering since 1997.

"Customers really like the convenience. The feedback we've received is they want to buy more because of our low prices."

Scarborough won't be the first to get one of Wal-Mart's so-called Supercenters, giant retail outlets that carry both general merchandise and a full range of groceries, including fresh produce, meat and baked goods. The U.S.-based retailer has already confirmed it will open three of these behemoths this fall, one each in Ancaster, London and Stouffville.

But the Scarborough store will be the first inside the crucial Toronto market where the big traditional supermarket chains, like Loblaws, Dominion and to a lesser extent Sobeys, can still command top dollar, according to financial analysts.

The other three scheduled to open early next year are in Vaughan, Brampton and Sarnia, Pelletier confirmed in an interview late last week.

In the United States, Wal-Mart's entry in the food business devastated traditional grocers as the retailer applied its world-renowned cost controls and supply chain efficiencies to this new category.

In Canada, it's already had an impact on prices, profits and pay packets in some stores, as conventional retailers gear up for the coming onslaught.

And they're prepared to do much more to defend their turf, said Nick Jennery, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors, the supermarket industry association.

"You're going to see better service to consumers, better pricing, more unique product offerings. It's going to be great for consumers," Jennery predicted.

For the average food retailer, every customer is worth between $4,000 and $5,000 a year in sales, Jennery noted. "You're not going to let them walk out of the store without a big fight."

Many market watchers are confident that Canadian retailers are prepared, having watched what happened south of the border.

"I would describe the attitude in the industry as a healthy state of tension," Jennery said.

But nobody really knows how things will play out until the first Supercenter opens its doors.

Ontario's food retailing industry could be headed for a "grocery bloodbath," Perry Caicco, a leading industry analyst with CIBC World Markets, warned in a recent industry report.

Wal-Mart came to Canada in 1994 through the purchase of Woolco a struggling discount department store chain. The move immediately gave it 122 locations. It also shook up a complacent Canadian retail industry. Half a dozen major chains disappeared over the next decade, leaving only two major department store retailers in Canada — Sears and Hudson's Bay — and both continue to see their market share deteriorate.

But while some retailers suffered, analysts say consumers benefited as all retailers were forced to adopt sharper pricing, better cost-controls and more innovation.

Wal-Mart has been gradually adding more food to its stores along the way. But until recently, it was confined to dried goods, frozen foods and dairy products. Customers had to go elsewhere to buy fresh meat, produce or baked goods.

That's about to change with the introduction of one-stop shopping at Wal-Mart's Supercenters. Will Canadian consumers change, too?

Wayne Hanley, whose first job was working the cash register in a Zehrs store, is now the national president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

With roughly 100,000 members working in Canadian supermarkets, the union has more than most at stake in Wal-Mart's entry into the food business, especially since the retailer has so far resisted most efforts to unionize its workforce.

"Any time a new food retailer comes to town, it has an impact on everyone else. There's only so many dollars people have to spend on groceries and they're going to spend them where they think they're going to get value," said Hanley.

Some of the union's members have already felt the impact as some retailers try to cut their costs in anticipation of Wal-Mart's move into fresh food.

Loblaw Cos. Ltd. has struck a more favourable deal with the union for its new Real Canadian Superstores in Ontario, which are larger and carry more general merchandise than conventional Loblaws stores.

Now, Loblaw is pushing for more flexible language in its conventional store contracts, a move that would allow it to convert more of those stores to the new Real Canadian Superstore format, according to industry watchers.

The UFCW has been trying to for years to unionize Wal-Mart stores on both sides of the border, with limited success. In Canada, the two are locked in labour battles in stores across three provinces.

The union has come closest to succeeding in Quebec. A store in Jonquière was the first to be certified. Wal-Mart immediately closed it, saying the store was no longer economically viable. A second Quebec Wal-Mart, this one in Ste. Hyacinthe, has also been certified and is now trying to win a first contract.

Wal-Mart says its employees are happy and don't need or want a union. And it accuses the UFCW of unfairly focusing on stores in labour friendly jurisdictions, like Quebec, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, where employers have fewer rights.

The union accuses Wal-Mart of deliberately intimidating employees and violating labour laws in its efforts to keep them out.

Hanley said he believes Canada's food retailers are well prepared for Wal-Mart's entry into fresh food. The companies, each in their own way, have adopted strategies to help them either compete head to head or differentiate themselves.

He also says Canadian consumers shop for more than just price. "I think they're prepared to spend a little bit more if they see the quality and the service," he said.

And he questions the accepted wisdom that Wal-Mart is always the price leader.

"Wal-Mart tends to be associated with lower prices, which will continue to work well for them," he said. "But what the consumer sometimes misses is that while Wal-Mart will have a great deal on beach towels or laundry soap, when you get into the aisles and compare the price of things like soup, the stuff everyone has in their cupboards but don't use every day, there's not a great price difference.

"I think your Food Basics and your No Frills will be very competitive with Wal-Mart, if not cheaper," he said, citing two low-cost subsidiaries of major Canadian supermarket chains.

As it currently stands, Canada's food retailing industry is dominated by a handful of generally strong, well-financed players with good prices, innovative offerings and great real estate, according to industry analysts.

That doesn't mean they're bullet proof.

In fact, since Wal-Mart announced last December that it would enter the fresh food business, almost every financial analyst has downgraded the publicly traded supermarket chains. There's hardly a "buy" recommendation among them.

That could change after Wal-Mart opens its first Supercenters and the real impact becomes clearer, analysts said. Still, some of the entrenched players are more vulnerable than others, analysts said.

At the moment, Loblaw Cos. Ltd. dominates the industry with a one-third share of national food sales, followed by Atlantic-based Sobeys Inc., then Quebec's Metro Inc. (which also owns A&P and Dominion in Ontario), and in western Canada, Safeway Inc. and Overwaitea Food group, a Jim Pattison company.

The initial battleground will be Ontario where Wal-Mart can leverage the distribution network it set up a couple of years ago to supply its first Canadian Sam's Club warehouse-style stores. The club stores carry fresh food.

To some extent, Canada's food retailers are already well insulated from Wal-Mart through their own discount formats, noted Don Povilaitis, an industry analyst with the Canadian division of debt-rating agency Standard and Poors.

Unlike their U.S. counterparts, all the leading Canadian players are already in the low-priced segment, he noted. Loblaw has No Frills, Sobeys has Price Chopper and Metro's A&P has Food Basics.

The fact these chains already exist is thought to be one reason it has taken Wal-Mart more than 10 years to enter the perishables business in Canada. And, in recent years, those discount stores have come to command an even greater market share, Povilaitis noted.

In fact, the old-fashioned supermarket, with its in-store butcher, wider selection of perishables and higher labour costs, is gradually being replaced with low-cost formats "due to increasing consumer price sensitivity," Povilaitis said.

In Toronto, these so-called "hard discount" stores now represent half the market, Povilaitis noted in an in-depth report on the industry last month.

And he questions whether Wal-Mart will be able to undercut those stores. Comparing prices on food products already offered in Wal-Mart stores, Povilaitis reached the same conclusion as the UFCW's Hanley.

"Wal-Mart's existing Canadian food prices are no lower than those found in competitors' discount stores," Povilaitis said.

Still, some Canadian supermarket chains are more vulnerable than others, analysts said, despite taking steps to gear up for Wal-Mart.

Loblaw's strategy is to meet the challenge head on by building bigger stores that also offer general merchandise as well as food. In the last two and a half years, it has opened 20 Real Canadian SuperStores in Ontario, a format that has done well for it in western Canada for more than two decades.

Non-food items now account for 20 per cent of Loblaw's annual sales. Still, the transformation has taken a bigger toll than it expected. Its stock price hit a four-year low recently after the company lowered its sales and profit forecast for the year.

Quebec-based Metro boosted its sales by acquiring the Canadian assets of The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., last August. The move gave Metro key assets in the Toronto market, where Dominion has some of the best real estate in the country.

Meanwhile, Sobeys is investing heavily to update its conventional stores while experimenting with a new smaller, more upscale urban format called Sobeys Express.

Toronto accounts for nearly half of all food sales in Ontario and differs from the rest of the province because traffic gridlock tends to make consumers captives of their closest store, CIBC's Caicco wrote in a report. Those stores are able to command higher prices because consumers are less likely to shop around, he wrote.

Conventional full-service stores in suburban markets are far more vulnerable, Caicco wrote, though many chains have already started converting more of those stores to their discount formats.

"Wal-Mart's success in food will not be automatic," Caicco concluded.

Back at the Wal-Mart store in Scarborough, retiree Harry Harding is scrutinizing the prices in the frozen food aisle on a box of Highliner's Wild Pacific salmon in dill sauce and kicking himself.

Wal-Mart is charging just $9.96. Harding says he paid nearly two dollars more than that at another store. Still, he's saving a dollar on the 12 pack of canned Nestea he's got in his cart.

Like a growing number of Canadians, price is a big factor in many of his food purchases and if Wal-Mart carried more products, he'd buy them there.

"I'm a senior on a pension," he says. "Why would I throw my money away?"

But price isn't his only criteria, Harding admitted. In fact, he shops at two or three different stores, including the big Shoppers Drug Mart in his neighbourhood, on a regular basis depending on what's on his list.

"I go to Loblaws for their seven-grain bread because you can't get it anywhere else. And I go to Dominion for hamburgers because I like their meat," Harding said.

Two aisles over at the Wal-Mart, Sharon Birmingham, of Lindsay, Ont., is shopping with her daughter Kelly for basic household products.

"We don't have a Wal-Mart in Lindsay," she explained, so they decided to stock up while visiting relatives in Toronto.

At home, Birmingham said she splits her grocery bill between Food Basics and Loblaws because she likes the prices at Food Basics but prefers the meat at Loblaws.

Would either of them buy all their groceries at Wal-Mart if they offered the full range?

It would depend on the quality, the products and the price, both Harding and Birmingham said.

"It's not a slam dunk for Wal-Mart," said Chris Holling, executive managing director of Global Insight, Inc. "Wal-Mart in the U.S. went after extremely traditional grocers, who enjoyed near monopolies in their communities and had themselves taken away business from local neighbourhood stores.

"I see the Canadian competitors being better prepared."

Holling said he also thinks smaller stores focused on quality and service will find a healthy niche in this market.

When the first Supercenters open their doors, a lot of Canadian consumers will go out of curiosity to see what they have to offer, the grocery distributors' Jennery predicts.

"But at the end of the day it will come down to which store gives me the most compelling reason to shop there. The price will go to the store that gives the best answer to that question," he says.


Aug 15, 2006, 9:00 PM
From: http://www.retailingtoday.com/story.cfm?ID=47346AMS&RefPage=Homepage
Wal-Mart Canada to open supercenters this year

TORONTO - August 15 - By Mike Duff
Wal-Mart Canada will begin a two-stage roll out of its supercenter format in October and will follow with more locations next year, including the largest planned store in its initial wave of openings.
All the supercenters will be in Ontario, with openings in a geographical swath ranging from Toronto to just across the United States boarder at Port Huron, Mich.

Wal-Mart Canada spokesman Kevin Groh said two supercenters will open this fall in Ancaster and London. Both of those are existing stores being expanded to the supercenter format.

The company then plans to open a supercenter in Stouffville. For the new year, Wal-Mart Canada will open supercenters in Sarnia, Brampton, Scarborough and Vaughn. Groh noted that the largest of those supercenters is going to be in Scarborough, which is an existing 135,000-square-feet store that will be relocated across the street and increased to 215,000 square feet.

Canadian retailers have, for several years, been preparing for Wal-Mart to introduce the supercenter format to the Great White North. Zellers developed a pantry operation it named Neighborhood Market, thus beating Wal-Mart to the name in Canada. And, Loblaw expanded a hypermarket format it called the Real Canadian Superstore from western Canada, where it constituted a handful of stores, to eastern Canada including the Toronto metropolitan area anticipating Wal-Mart’s arrival as a food player.

Even as its Canadian rivals made their moves, Wal-Mart was establishing its own operations and several years ago the retailer’s management told Retailing Today that the initiatives were to culminate in the launch of supercenters. First, it added its own expanded pantries and then, during 2004, it rolled out Sam’s Clubs in the Toronto area where it now operates six units.

Aug 15, 2006, 9:21 PM
From: http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1155592215826&call_pageid=968350072197&col=969048863851
Ivanhoe in mall mega-deals
Properties in Madrid, Glasgow
Aug. 15, 2006. 07:06 AM

Canadian developer Ivanhoe Cambridge has agreed to purchase three mega shopping malls — including Vaughan Mills, one of the largest in the Greater Toronto Area — for $981 million (U.S.).
In one of the largest deals of its kind, the Canadian company yesterday confirmed the signing of a letter of intent with Maryland-based Mills Corp., which is under investigation on allegations of accounting irregularities. The deal is worth $1.1 billion (Canadian).
Ivanhoe Cambridge wants to own all of the popular Vaughan Mills mall, the St. Enoch Centre in Glasgow, Scotland; and the Madrid Xanadu in Madrid, Spain.
"This is something that has been in line with diversifying our investment activities abroad," Ivanhoe spokesperson Nancy Defoy said in an interview. "This is yet another step in that direction."
Vaughan Mills and St. Enoch are owned in a 50-50 partnership between the two developers. Madrid Xanadu is wholly owned by Mills.
It had been publicly exploring options over the last several months on whether to sell all or part of itself over, and this is its first divestment.
"Clearly, if you are in Ivanhoe's position, what you want to do is control your own destiny, and that's what they did," said Peter Senst, vice-president of CB Richard Ellis.
Given Mills's financial troubles, Ivanhoe would have ended up with "just about any partner" if the property were sold off, which would not be a strategically wise position, Senst said. "This way, you get to control management."
Mills last week made a series of writedowns and reported financial problems with a U.S. project.
Ivanhoe, by virtue of being a partner, also benefited by getting a reasonable price on the deal without "having to compete with 20 other institutions for the choice properties. It's not a distress price, but it's a reasonable price," Senst said.
Ivanhoe has the option to sell a portion of the malls in the future, if diversification seems a good idea, he said, and is in position to buy any other Mills properties that may be available.
Mills spokesperson David Douglas declined to say whether his company would attempt to dispose of other properties.
"We are not going to speculate at this time."
The cash-strapped company will pocket about $500 million (U.S.) from the sale after project costs and paying down debt.
Ivanhoe, a subsidiary of Quebec pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, has a master agreement to build three more mega lifestyle malls with Mills in the Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal areas.
"The master agreement is still in place, so, technically, we could still partner with Mills in the future," Defoy said.
In an interview in April, Ivanhoe vice-president of development Paul Gleeson said his company was willing to forge ahead with those projects whether Mills was able to or not.
"Hopefully, they will be on board, but we believe in the concept and we are prepared to do it on our own," Gleeson said.
The purchase deal, which could close as early as the end of the month, is subject to final approval by each firm's board of directors. The deal values the three properties at approximately $1.5 billion. Defoy said it was the largest deal in recent memory for Ivanhoe.
Mills, one of the largest shopping-mall developers in the world, is credited with revolutionizing retailing by packaging shopping as entertainment.
The company is under investigation by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Shares of the real estate investment trust are down more than 60 per cent over the last year after Mills revealed the probe into the company's accounting.
Mills has recently fired its chief operating officer and members of its development team and has delayed quarterly earnings reports.
Despite a slow start, Vaughan Mills, the first enclosed regional mall to open in the Greater Toronto Area in 14 years, has been a success.
In July, Mills and Ivanhoe unveiled a plan to expand Glasgow's St. Enoch Centre from 750,000 square feet to about 1 million, transforming the mall into one of the largest in the United Kingdom. The project is expected to cost more than $200 million (Canadian).
Defoy said Ivanhoe already has expertise in Madrid with the co-ownership of a 900,000-square-foot mall in the city.
"The deal in Madrid makes sense, since they can have some economies of scale and lock in the competition," Senst said.
Deep-pocketed Ivanhoe has 43 centres with a market value of more than $7 billion.

Aug 16, 2006, 9:36 PM
Can anyone recommend a company in Ontario that engineers, designs, builds, retail store facades and signs?
Like this.

Not for a pad site, but for stores located in mini-malls/plazas.

Aug 19, 2006, 12:13 PM
From: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/financialpost/story.html?id=8a0548d0-57e3-4ce3-86ee-009ee0e33af4&k=12502
Wal-Mart Canada calls on suppliers to cut prices

Hollie Shaw
Financial Post

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Wal-Mart Canada Corp., readying for battle with Loblaw Cos. in the grocery market, is urging its suppliers to look for ways to further lower prices, noting some vendors are enjoying fatter profit margins thanks to a strong Canadian dollar.

"The Canadian dollar is trading at near-historic highs, providing unanticipated inflation of profit margins among our suppliers -- and an opportunity to lower prices for Canadians," says an internal letter sent to suppliers this week and signed by Mike Huffaker, the retailer's chief merchandising officer, and Jim Thompson, senior vice-president of merchandising.

"Our U.S. operation routinely receives goods from suppliers for a lower cost than our Canadian operation, often for the same items and from the same companies. This creates a random price disparity between the U.S. and Canadian markets," it adds.

The letter asks suppliers to consider how the dollar's rise affects them and whether they can help Wal-Mart further cut its prices. One money-saving suggestion in the letter is for suppliers to package goods being sold in both countries in English, French and Spanish, eliminating the cost of separate packaging print runs.

The news comes one day after the retailer's Arkansas-based parent company reported its first decline in quarterly profit in 10 years after pulling out of Germany.

Company chief executive H. Lee Scott said he was disappointed by the performance of its domestic stores, where sales grew a modest 6.9% and profit margins were lower amid higher costs for fuel, back-to-school marketing and store renovations.

Wal-Mart Canada spokesman Kevin Groh said the call to suppliers is not a sign that sales in the Canadian division are slowing, but is merely part of the company's credo to ensure consumers are getting the lowest prices possible on goods.

"This is not a problem," he said. "This [letter presents] an opportunity -- it isn't a mandated directive. It is a question of asking if there are economic conditions that are creating benefits that we can share with the customer or business conditions that we can alter to the benefit of the customer."

One large supplier speaking on condition of anonymity said many of the consumer goods it produces are manufactured in Canada and priced in Canadian dollars, so "we aren't really seeing any benefit from the higher dollar."

Two years ago, the Canadian dollar was worth US76.49 cents. Yesterday it closed at US89.47 -- a 17% difference.

Ken Wong, a professor at Queen's University's School of Business, said it's likely Wal-Mart sent the letter because it would not be able to alter the terms of older contracts with suppliers but was trying to use "moral suasion" to get them to do so.

Furthermore, the retailer might not know the exact nature of the supply agreements between U.S. multinational corporations and its Canadian divisions, he said. While some Canadian divisions manufacture their own goods, others buy them from the U.S. parent company for a specified transfer price. If the amount was set in U.S. dollars, a Canadian unit would be able to buy more for the same price than it did in the past.

Canadian retailers generally deal directly with the Canadian divisions of multinational consumer products corporations because sourcing from the U.S. base directly would be a more cumbersome process, giving rise to tariffs, dues and logistics issues.

"The transfer price of the good is always a big issue in [multinationals] and it varies from company to company," Mr. Wong said.

"You could say this [letter] is about Wal-Mart living up to its marketing about giving Canadians the lowest prices. If they do not pass those prices on, though, they are just bullying suppliers."

Price disparity between products sold in Canada and the U.S. is most evident in electronics and media, including DVDs and CDs, and in books and magazines. Publishers who set book prices have said they are in the process of re-stickering top-selling books with prices updated to reflect the stronger dollar, but the process will take some time.

Mr. Groh said encouraging suppliers to look at ways to trim fat has always been part of Wal-Mart's credo, and lays a good "foundation mindset" among suppliers as the retailer prepares to open its first grocery superstores in Canada later this year.

"We look at supercentres as a great opportunity to lower the cost of living for Canadians."

Loblaw and main rival Sobeys Inc. have been lowering prices in anticipation of Wal-Mart's entry into Canadian food retailing.

"Wal-Mart likes to squeeze every ounce out of suppliers and their suppliers know that," said Richard Talbot, president of retail consultancy Talbot Consultants.

"Grocery is such a low-margin business already, and Wal-Mart wants to be brutally competitive and get those prices down as low as they can."

Aug 19, 2006, 12:16 PM
From: http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1155765011502&call_pageid=968332188492&col=968793972154&t=TS_Home
Move over, Queen West
Leslieville, a stretch of Queen East between Leslie St. and Empire Ave., is the new cool kid on the shopping block
Aug. 19, 2006. 01:00 AM

Queen East is the new Queen West.
The coolest new place to shop in Toronto these days is Leslieville, a neighbourhood that spans a stretch of Queen St. between Empire Ave. and Leslie St.
Perhaps responding to a new crop of condo developments and many young families buying houses in the area, a wave of new restaurants and shops have opened on Queen East in recent months. There's a real feeling of discovery for adventurous shoppers who like to explore new territory.
Aside from the anticipated opening of a new Starbucks at the corner of Queen and Logan Sts., most of the places in Leslieville are independently owned and operated. It's kind of an anti-mall shopping experience.
Leslieville dates to about 1850, when it was a working-class village named after businessman George Leslie. It's seen some hard economic times over the years, but now it's attracting creative shop owners who prefer not to pay the high rents of Queen St. W.
The vibe is decidedly indie and eco-conscious. Themes include vintage furniture, specifically mid-century modern, organic foods and retailers that offer do-it-yourself classes.
For example, the Leslieville Cheese Market has tasty night classes in cheese appreciation. At Sushi Marché, chef John Lee will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about Japanese food, then send you home with enough sushi to feed an army — or at least your hungry family. And at Nathalie-Roze & Co., you can learn how to make your own soaps, accessories, books and more.
But the area is definitely in transition. For every newly-renovated storefront, there's a neglected address that's seen better days.
And the neighbourhood is not without a criminal element, though shopkeepers and local residents are working together to create homegrown solutions that respect the community's history and variety.
To enjoy shopping in the neighbourhood, you really have to embrace the grit.

Aug 24, 2006, 12:28 AM
dell opens in metrotown - burnaby

The first Dell Direct store in B.C. opened for business Tuesday at Burnaby's Metrotown, with a second opening in Vancouver's Oakridge shopping centre today.

The kiosks showcasing Dell's latest computers and electronics will make a total of 15 such centres opened in Canada since 2003, the year the computer manufacturer started its Dell Direct store program.

While the stores are demonstration booths about three by five metres in size rather than full retail outlets, they let consumers check out and order Dell wares previously sold only online and via telephone.

The Dell Direct expansion here comes on the heels of openings in Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa and follows a three-year test run for Canada that started with Dell Direct stores in Toronto and Montreal. There are about 175 such outlets in the U.S., according to Michel Lagace, national manager in Canada for Dell Direct Stores.

The store expansion comes as the direct-sales computer manufacturer struggles to recover from a spate of bad news marked by recent disappointing second-quarter earnings; its recall of 4.1 million notebook computer batteries made by Sony Corp. amid reports of overheating and fires, and a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the company's accounting and financial reporting.

Dell, the world's largest personal computer maker, which catapulted to success with its direct, made-to-order sales of computers for businesses and consumers, reported its profits fell 51 per cent to $502 million US in the second quarter, down from $1.02 billion in the same period a year ago.

Analysts have suggested the company may have to rethink its strategy of selling only over the phone and the Internet, particularly with slowing PC sales, shrinking profits and aggressive competition. The kiosks, while not allowing consumers to walk out the door with Dell products, let them handle the products and get help from Dell representatives.

"Dollar wise, it is not big dollars," Lagace said of the contribution the outlets deliver to sales. "The kiosks are more for us a showcase to offer customers the opportunity to see and touch the product.

"The kiosk is a way for us to offer an extension of the Dell direct model in the retail world."

As computer technology has advanced, Lagace said many customers don't feel comfortable with such issues as wireless computing and networking and welcome the opportunity to talk to experts at the kiosks. They can also see such products as Dell's 42-inch high-definition plasma televisions, its LCD TVs, a range of notebook computers, desktops, LCD screens and other electronics.

"It is a small area but it has a lot to offer for customers to touch and feel the products and talk to someone who knows about them," said Lagace. "I am very excited that we are here in B.C.

"I am looking forward to seeing the results of the customer feedback and the performance of these two kiosks."


Aug 24, 2006, 12:43 AM
Rona continues Buying Spree

SQUAMISH, BC, Aug. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - RONA Inc. ("RONA" or the "Company")
(TSX: RON), the leading Canadian distributor and retailer of hardware, home
improvement and gardening products, acquires 100% of the operating assets of
British Columbia-based Mountain Building Centres Limited ("Mountain Building
Mountain Building Centres is an important supplier of building materials,
home improvement and hardware products in the Sea to Sky Corridor of British
Columbia. Mountain Building Centres is a private company founded in 1993 by
Brian McIntosh and Ken Pickering. The company employs 60 full time staff
members and posted sales of $22 million in 2005.
Mountain Building Centres operates three retail outlets in British
Columbia, located in Squamish (39009 Discovery Way), Whistler (1350 Alpha Lake
Road) and Pemberton (7456 Prospect Street). Currently operating under the
Tim-BR Mart banner, the store network includes approximately 61,000 square
feet of combined retail/warehouse space and 7 acres of outdoor lumberyard
storage. Lumber and building materials represent approximately 70 % of the
chain's sales.
The transaction will be financed by RONA's existing credit facilities.

Significant advantages

RONA believes that the acquisition of Mountain Building Centres will
generate a number of significant strategic advantages and will allow the
company to:

- Increase sales to businesses, industries, and institutions in BC's Sea
to Sky Corridor.

- Expand its expertise in this field, with the addition of an experienced

- Achieve recurring annual synergies proportional to those achieved with
earlier acquisitions.

RONA President and CEO Robert Dutton said that "adding Mountain Building
Centres will strengthen RONA's network north of Vancouver and allow us to
better serve the commercial, industrial and institutional sector as well as
the home renovator market in the thriving Sea to Sky country. Moreover, as a
National Partner of the VANCOUVER 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, it
is only fitting that RONA grow its presence in the region that will be hosting
a significant portion of the Games. Together with the Mountain Building
Centres team, we will proudly lend a hand to help build Canada's games."
Brian McIntosh, General Manager of Mountain Building Centres, is also
pleased with the transaction. "We're happy to complete the sale of the
operating assets of our company to a thriving Canadian chain that understands
how we go to market and one that will continue to serve all our customers in
the Mountain Building Centres tradition. RONA will provide our staff with
further development and growth opportunities."
"Our customers will have an enhanced selection of products and services
at great prices. RONA's buying offices will bring exciting new merchandise and
outstanding pricing to Mountain Building Centres stores," said Mr. McIntosh.
According to Mr. McIntosh, the sale will enable Mountain Building Centres to
continue to grow as a leading player in building materials and in
hardware-renovation products in the Sea to Sky Corridor, with improved and
expanded services in the years ahead. "It will be business as usual...only
better," he concluded.

Four acquisitions since the beginning of 2006

The acquisition of Mountain Building Centres follows three other
acquisitions announced by RONA since the beginning of the year. In July, RONA
completed the acquisition of Curtis Lumber Limited, a chain operating six
retail outlets in British Columbia and, in April, 51% of operating businesses
of Matériaux Coupal with nine points of sale in the Greater Montreal Area. The
company also acquired in March a chain of eight Chester Dawe stores in
Newfoundland and Labrador. These four transactions have allowed RONA to add
more than $306 million in retail sales to its network and welcome over
1,060 new employees.


Aug 24, 2006, 12:47 AM
Aéropostale prepares for Canadian landing in 2007

A U.S. apparel retailer known for its moderately priced, trendy fashions is looking to set down roots in Canada by the fall of 2007, targeting the fickle teenager who is already being wooed by an array of other chains.

Aéropostale Inc., a fast-growing chain based out of New York, wants to open stores in major cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, following in the footsteps of other foreign retailers that have entered Canada over the past several years, some with mixed results.

"I think we are just a perfect fit for the customer we have seen in Canada," said Natalie Turpan, director of real estate at Aéropostale.

The chain, with 700-plus U.S. stores focusing on casual but not overly edgy styles, is entering difficult territory that has seen a number of domestic players struggle to figure out shifting teen fads.

But foreign retailers tend to do well, at least initially, because they're new and different, said Maureen Atkinson, a partner at retail consultancy J.C. Williams.

At some point, some of them "hit a wall," she added. Even Old Navy, Gap Inc.'s discount division, is enjoying nowhere near the brisk business it did when it first set up shop a few years ago.

Mark Grenville, president of Grenville International Consulting Corp. in Thornhill, Ont., said he is looking for mall locations for Aéropostale, with a goal of the first stores opening in August of 2007.

It will be the chain's first foray outside the United States, said Mr. Grenville, who has helped Gap and other U.S. retailers settle into this country.

Aéropostale will probably look at opening the same number of stores as American Eagle Outfitters Inc., a chief rival whose prices are a little higher than those at Aéropostale, Ms. Turpan said. Aéropostale prices, on the other hand, are a little higher than those at Old Navy.

Kenneth Ohashi, vice-president of investor relations at Aéropostale, said in an e-mail: "We are not making any comments about our expansion plans into Canada, if any, at this time." The company will report second-quarter results today.


Aug 24, 2006, 12:51 AM
Riverway – Adera’s Centre of Things to Come
Vancouver, B.C.- Riverway is an innovative commercial development that combines the functionality of a business park with the convenience of a central location, half a block south of Marine Way and Byrne Road near the coming Marine Way Market.

“Just as Adera is known as an innovator in its residential home construction, we are now applying our creativity to this commercial venture,” explains Norm Couttie, VP of Development for Adera. “Riverway will feature an extensive array of optional interior design items from special ceilings to hardwood floors to brick walls. Just as with Adera home purchasers, Adera commercial customers can tailor their spaces and interior finishes to suit their own needs and desires. We believe this is a first for BC.”

Riverway sets a new standard for business in the Lower Mainland. Designed by award-winning architect John Hollifield, designer of Creekside Place in Chilliwack and Bridge Business Park in Burnaby, the landmark development is spread over seven acres and will be developed in two phases. Phase I features a 100,000 square feet multi-owner building overlooking Burnaby’s Riverway Golf Course. Strata warehouse and office use are now sold out.

Phase II consists of an additional 100,000 square feet multi-tenant space for lease fronting Bryne Road, directly across the street from the new Marine Way Market shopping center. The bays in Phase II, which start at 2,315 square feet, are zoned for office, light industrial and ancillary retail usage. Both buildings are contemporary in design and provide excellent parking.

As well as being ideally tailored to business use, Riverway offers a number of amenities within easy walking distance, including two shopping centres with a variety of retail outlets, both large and small. Adjacent to the development is the Riverway Golf Course, which offers world-class meeting and conference facilities.

The location in rapidly expanding South Burnaby is not only naturally beautiful, but central and easily accessible. Riverway is only 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver, and just 20 minutes from the United States border and the Vancouver International Airport.

Phase I office and warehouse spaces sold quickly. The on site launch of Phase II on September 28th, will feature a ribbon-cutting with the mayor, and will give prospective buyers a first look at the unit’s office and warehouse spaces.

“The ribbon cutting will open a display centre similar to those seen at major housing projects,” according to Couttie, “including a sales office and show suites.”

For over 35 years, Adera has been one of British Columbia’s leading real estate organizations, developing top quality commercial, industrial and residential projects throughout the Lower Mainland. Adera’s work has earned them over 100 awards, including Best Builder in 2004 and the Gold Georgie for customer service five times in the last eight years from the Canadian Homebuilder’s Association. Adera is also responsible for the award-winning Bridge Business Park in North Burnaby.


Aug 29, 2006, 9:50 PM
From: www.cbc.ca/story/money/national/2006/08/28/sobeys-mon.html
Sobeys to convert IGA stores to Sobeys brands
Last Updated Mon, 28 Aug 2006 12:08:27 EDT
CBC News
Sobeys Inc. is planning a major shakeup of its IGA stores in Ontario that will see most of them re-emerging under the Sobeys, Foodland or Price Chopper banners.

Craig Gilpin, president of Sobeys Ontario, told IGA franchisees in a confidential letter obtained by CBC News Online that he plans to convert most IGA stores in Ontario to the Sobeys' brands.

As part of the corporate reorganization, Sobeys is offering to buy out any of the IGA independent franchisees who do not wish to convert their stores to the new corporate look.

"All IGA franchisees will be offered the option to sell their business to Sobeys according to a fair-value, buy-out formula," Gilpin said.

But Sobeys says it will continue to honour its franchise agreement with any IGA independent franchisees who want to keep their IGA brand.

Under a major re-organization, Sobeys is converting its stores to five formats. They include:

Full-service flagship stores under the Sobeys brand.
Community-service stores under the Foodland banner.
Fresh-service Sobeys stores.
Lower-priced Price Chopper.
Convenience stores under the Sobeys Express name.
The IGA stores will show up under the Sobeys format, Foodland or Price Chopper brands.

The change is expected to happen over the next few months. Sobeys is already converting some of its IGA stores to the new look with major rebuilding programs.

In his letter, Gilpin said Sobeys is trying to "clearly differentiate" itself in a highly competitive supermarket environment.

"We have been transitioning from a banner-focused, wholesale-driven organization to a customer occasion-based format, retail-focused set of stores and operating regions," he wrote.

"We have developed five formats, each serving the need for different offerings in different markets, based on the varying requirements of our customers and local market characteristics."

Gilpin chose the Foodland banner for many of the IGA stores because many of them are franchise-owned stores with a strong sense of community service.

In his letter, Gilpin also referred to a long-standing issue at Sobeys, the difficulty of dealing with independent franchisees, who do not necessarily want to follow the corporate line.

"Many IGA franchise operators seek a more collaborative working relationship with Sobeys than is currently possible with an advisory group that is intransigent, confrontational and unwilling to work collaboratively with Sobeys to grow the business."

Aug 30, 2006, 6:47 AM
Revamped Zellers opens - Saskatoon

More than 18 months after seeing the space go dark, the Centre Mall on Eighth Street in Saskatoon once again has a department store anchoring its east end.

An 80,000-square-foot Zellers opens today at 8 a.m., taking up most of what was the former Wal-Mart space.

Mark Smith, regional vice-president for Western Canada with the Zellers chain, says the investment in the new larger Zellers stores are paying off.

"Sales of these stores we've invested in do signifi cantly better than our average Zellers store," he said. "This is our newest, innovative prototype store." Besides the newly expanded store in Saskatoon, the company is relaunching eight similar-sized stores in Alberta.

Zellers is the discount brand owned by the Hudson's Bay Co. (HBC).

The company had begun the process of revamping its Zellers stores to better compete with Wal-Mart last year, before the Bay was taken over by American venture capitalist Jerry Zucker.

Among the items not usually associated with a Zellers store are major appliances and mattresses as part of an expanded home fashions section, and what Zellers calls its Neighbourhood Market, which has expanded food aisles, including coolers and freezers for perishable products.

"Milk, eggs, packaged meats and frozen dinners, that sort of thing," Smith explained.

"It's a convenience business and people do take advantage of that. It's been a hit in the stores that we've put them in.

"The jewelry counter and cosmetics department are also quite a departure from what you would see in our older stores.

The Saskatoon store will also include a pharmacy and a restaurant that will have a takeout section for items such as roast chicken dinners.

The manager of the Centre Zellers is Peter Bailey, who also managed the previous smaller Zellers store that was on the west end of the mall. The Centre mall owners have yet to announce whether they have found new tenants for that space, located next to the Safeway store.

Smith says there are no plans at present to do major renovations or changes to the other two Zellers stores in Saskatoon -- at the Mall at Lawson Heights or Market Mall.

However, Smith says Zellers has improved its distribution channel to get merchandise into its Western Canadian stores with a new warehouse in Calgary.

"It's improved the 'speed to counter' much faster," he said.

To mark today's "grand re-opening," Zellers is offering children's entertainment in the form of SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The HBC Foundation is also donating $5,000 to Interval House and $5,000 to the Children's Health and Hospital Foundation.


Aug 30, 2006, 6:49 AM
Wal-Mart's next battlefield
For more than a year, Wal-Mart has been trying to get into Port Elgin, a burgeoning Ontario town on the shores of Lake Huron.

The world's biggest retailer likes the spot and the wider community of Saugeen Shores, with its population of about 12,500 — 7,000 in Port Elgin alone and up to 40,000 in summer when cottagers settle in. The local market is well-heeled, and its numbers are forecast to jump by about 55 per cent over the next two decades. The nearby Bruce Power nuclear station is being revived, attracting hundreds of workers and boosting demand for housing and retailing in the area.

Best of all, fast-growing Port Elgin is home to only one supermarket, a Your Independent Grocer owned by Loblaw Cos. Ltd.

But for Wal-Mart and its Canadian real estate partner, SmartCentres, that's just where the challenge begins: Loblaw is opposing SmartCentres' rezoning application, joining a number of local groups to run its rival out of town.

The company may not be able to keep Wal-Mart out of Port Elgin forever, but it seems to know that in the competitive retail market, a battle delayed is a battle not lost.

“The longer the delay, the more the benefits,” says Dennis Wood, a lawyer for SmartCentres.

Welcome to the front lines of Canada's testiest retail war, where Wal-Mart, Loblaw and Zellers are duking it out over small communities and growing suburbs. But instead of using price cuts and two-for-one coupons, they're attacking each other with phalanxes of lawyers, planners and consultants.

In a handful of towns across Canada, Wal-Mart's latest ambitious expansion plans — especially to add grocery aisles — have met opposition from the entrenched players who say there isn't room for more.

“Everyone is trying to protect their turf, which is a natural thing to do,” says John Gray, Mayor of Oshawa, Ont. where a proposed Wal-Mart expansion is under attack. “If you're in a good competitive position, why undermine it by letting somebody else come in?”

For Loblaw, the stakes are especially high. It is racing to recover from its faltering expansion into non-food offerings in its bid to take on Wal-Mart.

But Loblaw spokesman Geoffrey Wilson says the grocer doesn't object just for the sake of objecting. Rather, it objects to a rezoning application in markets where it operates if it believes there aren't enough sales opportunities for “supermarket-type merchandise,” he says. Or it objects if there is no food retailing study accompanying an application.

“We will do that as a matter of course to protect our business,” he says.

Andrew Pelletier, a Wal-Mart Canada Corp. spokesman, disagrees: “We find it very unfortunate that they would resort to these tactics to try to maintain what amounts to monopolies in these markets. They're ultimately trying to limit competition.”

In small-town Port Elgin, local politicians can't get enough of this sort of attention. They're keen to attract more retailers, and new tax revenues. Townspeople already drive 45 minutes to shop at Wal-Mart stores in nearby towns, says Mayor Mark Kraemer of Saugeen Shores. While away, the residents are patronizing other businesses too. “We need the dollars retained in our community,” he says.

Such logic helped catch the eye of SmartCentres, which was formerly named First Pro and has been a close ally of Wal-Mart's since the U.S. giant arrived in Canada 12 years ago. Sobeys Inc. also sees the opportunities, with plans for its own supermarket in Port Elgin.

Joshua Kaufman, director of land development at SmartCentres, spent months in early 2005 studying the Port Elgin market. He drove around town, browsed its stores and chatted with local townspeople. He spoke with municipal engineers, planning officials and the local Chamber of Commerce representative. He observed people's driving and shopping habits.

He made the inquiries using his own name, not that of SmartCentres, because he didn't want to attract attention. SmartCentres is so closely identified with Wal-Mart that just using the corporate name could raise the bidding price of a property. “We didn't know who Mr. Kaufman was and who he was representing,” says Ron Brown, Saugeen Shores's chief administrative officer. “That's quite common. He said he was interested in a big retail development . . . But we did the research. We assumed it was Wal-Mart.”

By April of that year, Mr. Kaufman sealed a deal for a parcel of land on Highway 21 at the south end of Port Elgin, at one of its entry points. Then he focused on getting closer to the community. He contacted town councillors and the mayor. He joined the Chamber of Commerce.

On Dec. 5, the developer submitted its formal application for a zoning change to allow for a larger retail space than was permitted on the site. The application was supported by five SmartCentres-commissioned studies on the retail market, traffic patterns, planning issues, public services and an archaeological assessment.

The developer spends an estimated $1-million a month just on outside advisers for these types of applications, observers say. The more opposition it anticipates, the more consultant reports it orders. Along with that, SmartCentres employs an in-house team of about 80 specialists who work on applications — engineers, architects, financial analysts, lawyers, leasing and project managers.

In Port Elgin, town staff reviewed the developer's application, asked for some revisions, but were not concerned about the Wal-Mart store and its food section. Staff recommended that the project get a green light, and a public meeting was called for April 6.

Loblaw got into the action weeks before the meeting. Its lawyer called town officials, gathering information about the application. On April 3, the lawyer submitted a letter expressing Loblaw's concerns, and advised that it had hired its own consultant to review Wal-Mart's market analysis. The consultant, Hermann Kircher, warned that the town may be setting itself up for an overabundance of grocery-store uses in the area.

Mr. Kircher argued that Wal-Mart's consultant had underestimated the potential grocery sales at the discounter's proposed Port Elgin outlet. Moreover, he said existing Wal-Mart outlets in three nearby towns could soon be carrying more food. And he said that Loblaw's own supermarket in town may expand.

Because of the uncertainties, the municipality should commission an independent study or — at the very least — limit the amount of food that the proposed Wal-Mart could sell, Eileen Costello, Loblaw's lawyer, said in the letter.

Council members may have anticipated objections to Wal-Mart from some local residents, but several were taken aback by Loblaw's stance. “It's unrealistic to presume that you can retain a monopoly in a community forever,” Mayor Kraemer says. “It's nothing but a delay tactic to keep them [Wal-Mart] out as long as they can.”

Only Councillor Judy Ashbee voted against the Wal-Mart project, feeling the process had been too rushed. Loblaw had every right to challenge the proposal, she says, although “competition is not a reason for developments to be denied.”

The community itself is split on the prospect of Wal-Mart coming to town. But even many anti-Wal-Mart stalwarts would welcome more grocery stores. “It is true that we need more shopping,” says Margaret Grottenthaler, a Port Elgin cottager who is among those fighting the new development.

Despite the mixed feelings, the town council approved the zoning changes for the development on April 10 and, soon after, they were endorsed by the local county. But the final go-ahead could be months, if not years, away. That's because Loblaw, along with nine special interest and residents' groups, have appealed the zoning amendment to the Ontario Municipal Board. No hearing has been set.

Loblaw isn't alone among competitors to raise objections. In Oshawa, where SmartCentres has proposed a mall with a Wal-Mart super centre, two other opponents emerged: Zellers and a nearby shopping centre, which is owned by landlord heavyweight Ivanhoe Cambridge. (Loblaw recently withdrew from the fight.) The City of Oshawa commissioned its own consultant's report on the proposal. It found that the combined sales of the four Zellers stores in the city fall short of total sales at the single Wal-Mart at the other end of Oshawa.

David Baffa, director of development at Ivanhoe Cambridge, says he has to protect his tenants against a potentially overzealous competitive onslaught. His tenants include Zellers and the Bay.

“I don't think anyone expects us to just sit idly and say, ‘Great, just keep stretching the amount of retail space as far as possible,'” Mr. Baffa says. “What we're saying is: ‘Control the growth.'”


Sep 5, 2006, 3:52 PM
Apple opening its first Canadian store outside of TO (AFAIK) at Carrefour Laval (on Sept 9)

Sep 5, 2006, 3:55 PM
Is there a Miss Sixty store in Toronto?? anyone knows?

Sep 5, 2006, 9:12 PM
i don't think so

i believe the only miss sixty stores in Canada are in Montreal

Sep 6, 2006, 9:04 PM
Best Buy sets sights on downtown consumers
Electronics giant to open first urban store at Dundas and Bay

Back to school sales exceed expectations for Canadian retailers
Sep. 6, 2006. 01:00 AM

Canada's largest consumer electronics retailer will open its first "urban" store in downtown Toronto next week amid a strong back-to-school season for many Canadian retailers.

The Best Buy store at Dundas and Bay Streets, next to the Eaton Centre, will differ from its suburban counterparts as it attempts to appeal more to the downtown and commuter crowd, a senior executive said yesterday.

The store opening, Best Buy's 45th since coming to Canada four years ago, takes place amid growing fears of an economic slowdown south of the border. But the U.S.-owned retailer said it sees few signs of caution in Canada.

"We've seen double-digit (same-store sales) growth in every month but one so far this year, said Bryan DiPasquale, director of store operations for Best Buy Canada. "Clearly we're taking market share away from somebody."

Best Buy is not alone.

Other retailers are also reporting a buoyant back-to-school season, the year's second most important retail period and a strong indicator of future performance at Christmas, according to the Retail Council of Canada.

"I was just speaking with a few CEOs," said the retail council's chief executive Diane Brisebois. "They said the beginning of August was slow, the two middle weeks were slow, and then it just went gangbusters in the last week and continued through the (Labour Day) weekend. They couldn't believe it. All of those I spoke to said they'd met or exceeded their expectations.

"The Canadian economy appears to be more resilient than the American economy and Canadian consumers are definitely more optimistic than American consumers," Brisebois added in a telephone interview yesterday.

Heading into the back-to-school season, retail sales in Canada were already up a healthy 6 percentage points over last year, Brisebois noted.

And despite gloomy talk south of the border, sparked by a sharp 22 per cent decline in new home sales last month, Brisebois said, Canadian retailers see no reason to fear a slump heading into the holiday sales period.

While sales are strong, however, she cautioned profits remain under pressure.

"It's still extremely competitive so margins are under pressure," she said.

As well, sales in some categories are stronger than others, she said, with sporting goods, casual wear, outerwear and footwear all performing strongly.

The downtown Best Buy store doesn't open until Friday, Sept. 15, nearly half-way into the back-to-school season but just in time for the start of new home theatre sales, DiPasquale said.

To ensure the store opening gets lots of attention, Best Buy is bringing high-wattage celebrities Beyoncé and John Mayer to perform free mini-concerts in Dundas Square later next week.

This is the fourth time the multinational retailer has used its considerable marketing muscle to ensure a store opening gets star treatment in Canada.

"This is a huge store for us," Best Buy Canada spokeswoman Lori DeCou said. "This is our first urban store in Canada."

The retailer said it arranged for the star appearances through their record labels. "We absolutely leverage our relationship with the labels. Music and entertainment is a huge category for us. They've got an artist with a new CD out and we've got a new store."

Though the 36,000 square foot store will be similar to its counterparts in the suburbs, it will have more flat-panel TVs, more services for small business and more lunch-hour staff to accommodate the downtown and commuter crowd, the company said. It will not offer car-audio installation services.


Sep 6, 2006, 9:07 PM
Canadian Tire celebrates the grand opening of Q in Mississauga
MISSISSAUGA, ON Sept. 6 /CNW/ - In celebration of the grand opening of Q,
Canadian Tire's unique petroleum retailing concept for customers-on-the-go,
Canadian Tire offered Mississauga-area motorists 50 percent off the posted
price of gas between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. this morning. Mayor McCallion,
Councilor Eve Adams and former Maple Leaf hockey player Darryl Sittler joined
the festivities, helping customers fuel up during the busy morning rush.
Located at 5067 Dixie Road at Dixie and Eglinton in Mississauga, Ontario, the
new site helps meet customer's everyday needs by offering a selection of
quality brand name products and services under one roof, including Canadian
Tire, Starbucks, Sobeys and Tuckers Express Kitchen.
"The Q concept was introduced in 2005 to meet a specific need in the
marketplace - providing customers with products and services that meet their
everyday needs without sacrificing quality and affordability and offering it
under one convenient location to help them get what they need quickly and
easily," says Laila Zichmanis, president, Canadian Tire Petroleum. "We're
thrilled with the feedback we continue to receive regarding our Q locations
and are excited to be able to offer this totally unique retail concept to
Mississauga-area motorists."

The Mississauga Q offering includes:
- 12 spacious fueling positions under a distinct high Canadian Tire
canopy along with an advanced touchless carwash and 2,500 square foot
convenience market;
- a Starbucks with drive through and interior café offering the full
Starbucks Experience
- a 4,000 square foot "Sobeys Express" market customized food store
- a 1,000 square foot Tuckers Express Kitchen offering a wide selection
of high-quality fresh food prepared daily on site, including a unique
omelet and stir-fry bar.

At the on-site Starbucks, customers can enjoy a full menu of handcrafted
espresso beverages, freshly brewed drip coffee and Tazo teas. Customers can
stop in for a great cup of coffee on the go, or they can stop and relax in the
warm and welcoming environment.
The Sobey's Express is approximately 4,000 square feet and is focused on
satisfying customer requirements for the "immediate needs" shopping occasion.
The store offering will emphasize "fresh" including fresh produce, fresh
flowers, a refrigerated deli case with cheese, meats and sandwiches.
Q also provides busy Canadians with fresh, high-quality food options from
Tuckers Express Kitchen. The 1,000 square foot area offers customers freshly
prepared meals such as made-to-order omelets and stir-fries, as well as fresh
sandwiches. With seating available, all of the selections can be enjoyed on
the go, in the restaurant, at the office or at home.
For people on the run, Q offers 12 Canadian Tire Petroleum pumps with
pay-at-the- pump convenience and an advanced touchless car wash system. Q also
offers an extended Canadian Tire convenience offering, including
confectionary, beverages, DVDs, cards and giftwrap, branded toys, magazines,
general merchandise and premium items such as Rocky Mountain chocolate.

from canada news wire

Sep 6, 2006, 9:13 PM
The Coca-Cola Company introduces Far Coast to Toronto
Far Coast, a new range of freshly brewed beverages, launches a new brand
as well as a new business model for The Coca-Cola Company

TORONTO, Sept. 6 /CNW/ - The Coca-Cola Company unveiled its Far Coast
brand of premium brewed beverages today to an awaiting Toronto marketplace.
Through Far Coast, the Company has created a revolutionary new system to
empower its retail customers - premium restaurants, entertainment venues and
other high-end outlets - to offer a variety of freshly brewed espressos, chai
teas, cappuccinos and lattes with a high degree of operational ease.
Far Coast offers a wide range of coffees, teas and other exotic brews and
infusions that are inspired by different cultural "adventures" in music, art,
and legends from around the world. According to Udaiyan Jatar, who leads
Coca-Cola's Global Premium Brewed Beverage business, "Consumers are looking
for quality and variety and are increasingly curious about the world around
them. Far Coast was created to provide them with a window into different
cultures through our range of delicious brews and infusions."
"We are excited that Canada has been chosen as the first market for this
exciting entry into a new market. These brands are an example of The Coca-Cola
Company's emphasis on innovation as a means to provide our customers with
solutions that help them to tap into unmet opportunities," said Vince Timpano,
Division President for Coca-Cola Ltd. "Our goal is to provide our customers
with a total range of non-alcoholic beverages."

Far Coast "Concept Store" on Bloor Street
"Toronto is an ideal location for the launch because it is a
multicultural city that fits the cultural exploration brand positioning of Far
Coast and is in a country that has a highly developed brewed beverage market,"
stated Silvio Annosantini, who leads this project in Canada.
To help build awareness and trial of the Far Coast brand, the company has
created a Far Coast "Concept Store" in Toronto. The "Concept Store" will
provide a venue for consumers to taste and explore the wide range of premium
Far Coast blends and experience the magic of the brand. The location will
allow the Company to gather consumer feedback quickly on new products in order
to provide proven products to its restaurant customers. The location is also a
great venue for the Company's retail customers to observe the brand potential,
gain consumer learning and train crew.
"The "Concept Store" is a powerful and innovative marketing device to
build an authentic relationship between the Far Coast brand and consumers, and
ultimately, help drive consumers to our retail customers," said Jatar.
Following the opening of the Far Coast "Concept Store" on Bloor Street,
The Coca-Cola Company will rollout Far Coast only through its retail customers
in the Greater Toronto Area. Toronto will be closely followed by Oslo and
Singapore, both of which will open their own "Concept Store."
The Toronto Far Coast "Concept Store" will open to the public on
September 22, 2006. "To announce the opening, true to the brand's positioning,
a celebration of the world's cultures will take place at the Bloor Street
location," said Scott Stuckmann, Global Marketing Director for Premium Brewed
Beverages. "There will be performances throughout the day and the opportunity
to taste the entire variety of Far Coast brewed beverages."

The Technology
The Coca-Cola Company has developed a proprietary pod-based brewing
technology. This technology provides customers with an operationally easy
system to offer barista quality brewed beverages while ensuring each beverage
is consistently of superior quality and freshly made for each individual
consumer. This innovation is designed to help the Company's customers overcome
operational difficulties such as complex, unreliable machines and high labor
turnover. Through this technology, retail customers can quickly and
conveniently tap into the fast growing specialty coffee and tea market while
receiving marketing and technical support from The Coca-Cola Company.

In addition to Far Coast, The Coca-Cola Company introduced CHAQWA, a
complementary brand oriented towards convenience. The CHAQWA name comes from a
combination of "cha," the Mandarin name for tea, and "qawah," the name for
coffee in many Arabic languages. This brand brings with it the quality and
consistency of the best coffeehouses, and allows customers like convenience
stores and quick service restaurants to serve authentic cappuccinos and chai
teas to their patrons who already visit their stores and are looking to
upgrade from the coffee currently available. CHAQWA is designed for people "on
the go" who don't have time to wait in a queue at a typical coffeehouse but
who, if given the chance, would upgrade to a coffeehouse beverage if it were
available conveniently in a quick service restaurant. In contrast, Far Coast
is designed to be more experiential and "relaxed" and will be made available
in upscale hotels and fine dining establishments where consumers have the time
for a more immersive experience.

The Coca-Cola Company is the world's largest beverage company. Along with
Coca-Cola, recognized as the world's most valuable brand, the Company markets
four of the world's top five soft drink brands, including Diet Coke, Fanta and
Sprite, and a wide range of other beverages, including diet and light soft
drinks, waters, juices and juice drinks, teas, coffees and sports drinks.
Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more
than 200 countries enjoy the Company's beverages at a rate exceeding 1.3
billion servings each day. For more information about The Coca-Cola Company,
please visit our website at www.thecoca-colacompany.com.
For images related to this story, please go to


Sep 6, 2006, 9:36 PM
A Richmond-based board-games maker is heading east.

Headz Gamez International has been manufacturing a line of brightly coloured sports games in China but is moving the operations to the small town of Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, a couple of hours from Halifax.

The company's chief executive, Kerry Martens, says the move means 1,500 jobs going to Canadians rather than Chinese. The company will spend $25 million to build facilities to print and assemble games. The factory is expected to be up and running in 2008.


Sep 6, 2006, 11:37 PM
Couche Tard will spend a billion dollars in acquisitions shortly.

Sep 7, 2006, 1:54 AM

Sep 7, 2006, 1:57 AM
never heard of them - couche tard

what is the name they use for their stores?

or do they use different names?

Sep 7, 2006, 2:11 AM
never heard of them - couche tard

what is the name they use for their stores?

or do they use different names?

Our Specialty: Convenience Retailing

Welcoming some 25 million visitors every week, our stores offer a broad mix of food products, beverages, other merchandise and services and motor fuel. Grouped under three main brands: Couche-Tard®, Mac's® and Circle K®, our neighbourhood stores feature a friendly modern setting, and most of them are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Our Positioning: Number 1 in Canada

We are the leader in the Canadian convenience store industry. In North America, Couche-Tard is the third largest convenience store operator and the second largest independent (not integrated with a petroleum company) convenience store operator and the most profitable one within such category as a publicly held company. We owe this foremost positioning to the 37,000 people working in our stores and executive offices.

Our Network: 6 Canadian Provinces 25 American States 7 Other Regions Worldwide

Our chain has over 5,000 stores, over 3,000 of which sell motor fuel. These stores are located in three geographic markets (East, Centre and West) across Canada, and in five major markets covering 25 American states (Midwest, Southeast, Florida and Gulf Region, Arizona Region and West Coast) in the United States. In addition, a network of more than 4,000 licensees extends into seven other regions worldwide (Japan, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Guam, Macao and Mexico).



Sep 7, 2006, 2:19 AM

never knew that before

Sep 7, 2006, 2:34 AM
i don't think so

i believe the only miss sixty stores in Canada are in Montreal
The only Miss Sixty store in Canada is in Montreal.....for now.

Sep 7, 2006, 2:39 AM
The only Miss Sixty store in Canada is in Montreal.....for now.

now 3 of them

Sep 7, 2006, 3:02 AM
The only Miss Sixty store in Canada is in Montreal.....for now.

Actually there is a Miss Sixty store in Toronto's Yorkdale Mall, it shares the space with Energie


Sep 7, 2006, 3:06 AM
ah finally.

actually its the same brand, energie for men, miss sixty for women.

Sep 7, 2006, 5:13 AM
Big day for Hamilton because H&M opens!


Sep 7, 2006, 5:32 AM
they opened two stores in Dubai today too


Located in Dubai's Mall of the Emirates, the new H&M stores will each occupy over 1000 square meters of fashion and feature the retailer's most fashion forward collections for women, men, teens and children. A third store will also open in the Persian Court of Ibn Battuta on Wednesday, September 13th.

Sep 7, 2006, 5:42 AM
they opened two stores in Dubai today too


Located in Dubai's Mall of the Emirates, the new H&M stores will each occupy over 1000 square meters of fashion and feature the retailer's most fashion forward collections for women, men, teens and children. A third store will also open in the Persian Court of Ibn Battuta on Wednesday, September 13th.
H&M is ok, but it's got nothing on Steve and Barry's.


^Wait until they come to Canada.

Sep 7, 2006, 5:44 AM
I dunno about that when H&M partner designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney and in November, Viktor & Rolf well at the same time very affordable.

Sep 7, 2006, 5:46 AM
i went to H&M in London UK and thought they were quite good for the price

its basically like Old Navy but the Swedish version

Sep 7, 2006, 6:00 AM
i went to H&M in London UK and thought they were quite good for the price

its basically like Old Navy but the Swedish version
Well, again, it's more like the Steve and Barry's of "trendy clothes".

I think between H&M and Steve and Barry's, things are getting better.

Sep 8, 2006, 5:33 AM
From yesterday's grand opening...


Sep 9, 2006, 12:20 AM
Le Chateau names new CEO; wants to emulate Zara in fashion world

18:26:09 EDT Sep 7, 2006

Canadian Press: LUANN LASALLE

MONTREAL (CP) - Hoping to woo fickle fashionistas with the most up-to-date trends, Le Chateau (TSX:CTU.A) named a new CEO Thursday as it reported a slight dip in second-quarter profits.
Jane Silverstone Segal, wife of founder Herschel Segal, emerged as Le Chateau's new chief executive after a strategic review to determine the direction of the Montreal-based clothing retailer.
She has worked for the company for 27 years in the sales and buying departments, as president, and most recently as vice-chairwoman.
Former CEO Herschel Segal will continue to provide active strategic direction as executive chairman of the board. He opened the first Le Chateau store in Montreal in 1959.
"She's an excellent merchant," Segal said of his wife. "She's ready to run it and she's doing a great job."
She has the ability to see the coming trends and as for her fashion sense, "that's her forte," Segal said in an interview.
His wife, who is a lawyer, worked at Le Chateau as a university student and returned to the company in the 1970s, preferring the retail world to the legal world.
Le Chateau said it earned $5.4 million, or 87 cents per diluted share, for the three months ended July 29. That compared to a profit of $6.2 million, or $1.01 per diluted share, in the same period a year ago.
Quarterly sales were $71.9 million, up from $69 million a year ago.
Segal said Le Chateau will focus on men's wear and footwear and hopes to emulate the Spanish clothing chain, Zara, known for the international appeal of its trendy clothes.
"We can do it in Canada as well as them. We're here," he said.
"That's where the bar is," he said of the goal to emulate Zara, which sells men's, women's and children's clothes in more than 40 countries.
Le Chateau recently closed its junior line for girls.
The company announced in March it had hired Genuity Capital Markets to examine "various strategic alternatives," including a sale, merger or capital reorganization.
Segal said the strategic review is over and will result in a more customer-centric and merchant-oriented company.
"That means you're going to get a better hit rate on your product and you're going to sell it faster and it comes in with a better bottom line."
The couple's three children aren't interested in the business and the eventual management of the company will have to be decided in the future, Segal said.
Le Chateau, which has some stores in the United States, is studying more expansion south of the border but won't make any decisions before Christmas, he said.
The company is also going into secondary Canadian markets, Segal added.
Shares in Le Chateau closed Thursday at $39.75, up 15 cents, on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Sep 9, 2006, 1:05 AM
To be honest I don't think stores like H&M opening are that big news in Canada. All it signals is the continued loss of Canadian retail stores, and the continued trend of stores from other countries moving in, and really taking away from us having any unique offerings.

Its sad that since the 1990's, every new store is American and European, etc.

Whats the point of even travelling to the US or Europe, when we will have all the same stores here.

It would be nice for Canadian companies to again be the number one stores in our malls and downtowns.

Sep 9, 2006, 1:16 AM
yeah its exciting but i agree

i know when Pottery barn was only in the states it was more exciting now that we have one here its like who cares

same thing would happen if Target moved into Canada - it would lose all its cache and appeal

Sep 9, 2006, 1:52 AM
I really notice it on my trips to the USA now. Before it use to be interesting to go shopping while in the USA. Now its all the same stuff I have at home for the most part. Its just plain boring.

Why can't we have any unique stuff anymore.

Canada use to be home to many proud Canadian retail stores. Now most of them are gone.

My mom remembers when she was dating my dad and would come up to Toronto to visit him, that no trip to Toronto was complete till you went to EATONS DOWNTOWN. We don't have that kind of retail scene anymore, as all the stores are the same friggen stores you can find in the USA and Europe.

Canada use to have such an idenity, and now the retail scene in this country shows Canada as a whole. A place that has lost its idenity for the most part.

One of Canada's once proud retail destinations that was not in every mall in the world.

Sep 9, 2006, 1:57 AM
Whats the point of even travelling to the US or Europe, when we will have all the same stores here.

I guess there is no point. Afterall, shopping really defines the character and appeal of any foreign land.

I hope the sarcasm was not lost on anyone.

Sep 9, 2006, 2:02 AM
MIKE ITS CALLED GLOBALIZATION!!!! It didn't exist back in those days. This has happened everywhere.

Yorkdale and eatons center are still packed and very busy, so people don't mind.

Went to yorkdale last Saturday and there were so many people.

Sep 9, 2006, 2:06 AM
I don't like GLOBALIZATION. I don't need every country to have the same thing. I like different stuff. GLOBALIZATION sucks to be honest.

I really would not have a problem with Canada inacting laws saying that a retail company has to be Canadian, or make their products in Canada, to open up shop here.

In history class we learned Canada use to have laws like this, and that helped build strong Canadian companies and keep American companies out.

I say support Canadian companies again and lets support our talent.

Montreal for example use to be a fashion capital where many Canadian companies designed amazing clothing you could only get in Canada. Not so much anymore.

Sep 9, 2006, 5:11 AM
So the plan is to basically get out of the WTO and NAFTA, raise tariffs and other countries can have high tariffs against us, driving up the costs of consumer goods! No more Wal-Mart, Bestbuy, Futureshop, Source, Sears, Home Depot, Staples, 7-11, no H&M, AE, GNC, Apple or Sony Stores, EBGAMES, and ....... No IKEA!

Sep 9, 2006, 4:59 PM
I don't like GLOBALIZATION. I don't need every country to have the same thing. I like different stuff. GLOBALIZATION sucks to be honest.

I really would not have a problem with Canada inacting laws saying that a retail company has to be Canadian, or make their products in Canada, to open up shop here.

In history class we learned Canada use to have laws like this, and that helped build strong Canadian companies and keep American companies out.

I say support Canadian companies again and lets support our talent.

Montreal for example use to be a fashion capital where many Canadian companies designed amazing clothing you could only get in Canada. Not so much anymore.
So, you'd like us to have a closed economy like saaaay North Korea, riiiight.

Mike, you seem to easily forget that retailing is a business. And if the business doesn't make money, then it won't work. Many of the large department stores that went out of business or were losing money happened for a reason > changing consumer demands and market conditions.

Sep 13, 2006, 9:56 AM
Lucky jeans is opening up In Metrowtown next week

this is the second store in Canada after the first one opened up in Toronto a couple weeks ago

Sep 13, 2006, 6:30 PM
there is a rumor of a miss sixty/enegrie going into West Ed aswell

In edmonton there opening the first lacoste in alberta in West Ed its opening this spring

and alberta's first H&M.. as in West Ed Too

West ed is acully getting some world class stores!

Sep 14, 2006, 10:21 AM
Planet Organic bags Big Fresh
EDMONTON - Planet Organic Health Corp. of Edmonton has bought The Big Fresh at 12120 Jasper Avenue.

With Planet Organic already having one natural-foods store in Old Strathcona, "this gives us a greater foothold in the Edmonton market," vice-president Darren Krissie said Tuesday.

The Big Fresh gives Planet Organic a location on the north side of the river, where it can better serve downtown residents, Krissie said.

He plans to retain the Big Fresh name during a transitional period, then re-brand the store as a Planet Organic market.

The store was bought at an undisclosed price from Shelley Robertson, who will not remain with the operation.

"All the staff are staying," Krissie said. "They were an important part of the acquisition."

Scott Bladon, Planet Organic's corporate store management co-ordinator, said The Big Fresh has "the same philosophy" as Planet Organic,

Planet Organic sells organic produce and meat, natural groceries, deli foods, fair-trade coffee and chocolates plus supplements and body-care products.

"This gives us stronger buying power and will bring better pricing to The Big Fresh," he said.

The store will retain its essential character, Bladon said. "We will just tweak it over the next few months." Planet Organic also has stores in Calgary, Port Coquitlam, Victoria, and Halifax.

A second Calgary store is scheduled to open in October. A Port Credit, Ont. location will open in November.

The company also owns the seven-store chain of Healthy's Nutrition Centres in Toronto, the 48-location chain of Sangster's Health Centres, plus Trophic Canada, which manufactures vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements.

For the quarter ended March 31, 2006, Planet Organic Health reported sales of $10.1 million and net, pre-tax income of $785,438, or 1.6 cents per diluted share. Its shares closed Tuesday on the TSX Venture Exchange at $2.44, up 14 cents from Monday.


Sep 17, 2006, 9:50 PM
Seattle's Best pulls out of cafe biz in java-loving Vancouver

Caffeine-fuelled Vancouver will lose all five Seattle's Best Coffee cafes at the end of the month, leaving the brand's parent company, Starbucks, with one less competitor for Vancouver locations.

Jay Garnett, president and CEO of Vancouver-based Whitefish Group, which owns the Canadian licence for Seattle's Best Coffee, said the company is giving up the retail business and will instead focus on increasing sales of the coffee to retailers and restaurants.

The decision means 35 employees will lose their jobs at the shops, but Garnett said they will all have opportunities within the company or with customers who sell its products.

"This has been a very emotional decision," Garnett said Friday. "We built our cafes for the long term, but from a business standpoint, this is the best decision for the company."

He said Whitefish has been the Canadian licensee for Seattle's Best Coffee since 1993, when the brand was owned by AFC Enterprises. At that time, the plan was to develop wholesale and retail sales across the country. By 2003, when Starbucks bought the SBC brand, Whitefish had built seven cafes in Vancouver and had developed the infrastructure to open 100 locations in Canada.

But Starbucks had other plans for its new acquisition.

"Starbucks is the strongest player in the marketplace and they didn't want to compete for retail locations, but they were interested in expanding the wholesale side," Garnett said.

"This is not a financial decision -- it's a resource decision," he said, adding Starbucks hasn't taken over any of the SBC cafe leases. "When the owner changed the business model, we couldn't continue to grow."

Whitefish already distributes Seattle's Best Coffee to 1,000 customers in Canada. The company also distributes a number of other brands, including Santa Vittoria mineral water, David Rio teas and Krusovice beer.