Eye­wear bou­tiques give Canada a good look

Calgary Herald - - YOU - ALEK­SAN­DRA SA­GAN

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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