Calgary Herald

Eyewear boutiques give Canada a good look


Boutique eyewear retailers from around the world have set their sights on Canada as a hotbed for growth, hoping to capitalize on the country’s aging population and what they say is its taste for haute couture.

Several companies, including Japan’s Mujosh, U.S.-based Warby Parker and Bailey Nelson of Australia, have plans to open dozens of new stores over the next few years.

“Canadian people focus more and more on fashion trends, which makes Canada a promising market for us,” said Mujosh spokeswoma­n Doris Jin.

Mujosh opened its first Canadian store at West Edmonton Mall last month.

It already boasts more than 700 locations worldwide and plans to add shops in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, Jin said.

Last year, Canadians spent about $4.2 billion on spectacles, which includes frames, lenses, sunglasses and ready-made reading glasses, according to research firm Euromonito­r Internatio­nal.

That’s up from about $4.06 billion the previous year and roughly $3.84 billion in 2014.

Euromonito­r Internatio­nal says it expects steady growth to continue in the near future.

“It’s a very friendly market,” said Ela Veresiu, assistant marketing professor at York University in Toronto.

Bailey Nelson entered Canada in 2014, though it had to close its seven stores last month after the company severed a licensee agreement, said Bree Stanlake, the company’s managing director of North America. But it’s coming back with two corporate-owned locations in Vancouver this spring, with plans to open one more in Vancouver and two others in Toronto over the next year, Stanlake said.

“Across Canada, I can see easily between 40 and 50 stores in the next four years,” she said.

Last summer, Warby Parker chose Canada when it opened its first bricks-and-mortar store outside the U.S. It now has two Toronto locations. Not to be outdone, some Canadian boutique chains also have ambitious growth goals.

Montreal-based Bonlook has eight locations, but is planning to have more than 40 stores by early 2020, said company spokeswoma­n Andreanne Ferland.

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