News   Jan 27, 2023
 647     0 
News   Jan 27, 2023
 1.6K     0 
News   Jan 27, 2023
 3.5K     1 

Simons

S

samsonyuen

Guest
I wonder where in Toronto and Ottawa they're thinking...

From: www.theglobeandmail.com/s...y/National
_______________________
Amid gloom, a retailer grows
Simons sees sector's woes as opportunity

MARINA STRAUSS
RETAILING REPORTER
Quebec fashion favourite Maison Simons is preparing to expand to the rest of Canada as it looks to capitalize on the upheaval surrounding the traditional department stores.

Simons, which runs seven department stores in Quebec, anticipates major overhauls at Sears Canada Inc. and Hudson's Bay Co., which have both struggled to make gains and now face new ownership arrangements.

"The market is in so much flux right now," said Peter Simons, president at Simons and the fifth-generation family member to run the Quebec City-based business.

"I do think everyone is trying to cope with the uncertainty surrounding other major players in the market," he said in a telephone interview. "Sears and the Bay -- whether they're going to merge or not, or whether they're going to survive or not. It's not a secret. . . . Everyone is concerned and they're talking about it and they're developing contingency plans."

Simons has hired real estate broke J.J. Barnicke to hunt for space in the Greater Toronto Area, and is eyeing a site in Ottawa that would be developed by Morguard Real Estate Investment Trust, he said.

And prime targets for expansion could be the large downtown department stores run by Sears, if they became available, he said. Industry observers believe those stores don't ring up enough sales for their size.

Sears and HBC, which owns the Bay and Zellers, are in the throes of change. HBC was snapped up recently by U.S. businessman Jerry Zucker, while Sears is in the midst of being taken private by its U.S. majority owner, controlled by hedge fund star Edward Lampert. Industry insiders believe that the new operators will eventually want to unload some of their stores.

Simons is ready to jump. It has developed a strong following in its home province, offering mid- to high-priced fashions that tend to suit customers' tastes by tracking sales patterns through technology. In this way it is quick to reorder the hits and dump the weak sellers.

It focuses on customer service, with on-site alterations, tailors in every store and a system of reserving new merchandise.

It invests heavily in its stores and their design, spending considerable amounts on artwork, for example, Mr. Simons said. The downtown Montreal store boasts a suspended glass sculpture by artist Guido Molinari that cost "at least a couple of hundred thousand bucks." He believes customers like to be pampered in an attractive environment. "If they're treated well, then they do spend more maybe."

And Simons sends its merchandise team around the world to scope out the latest styles and bring them quickly to the shop floor, developing exclusive products. At any time, it could offer $20 private-label T-shirts and $4,000 faux crocodile Paul Smith suits.

"We have a culture of service," Mr. Simons said. "We approach service in a unique way. We don't focus on the selling, we focus on the experience."

In his bid to expand, Mr. Simons started thinking seriously about the move at the beginning of the year, he said. Already he is looking at opening his first non-Quebec store in Ottawa at a possible extension of the St. Laurent shopping centre.

Simons needs big locations -- 80,000 to 100,000 square feet -- for its stores. "Space like that isn't easy to find," Mr. Simons said. "It has to be developed. There is very little new shopping centre development. We're looking around, looking for opportunities that make sense."

And he's looking for opportunities that result from changes in the department store landscape. "I think there is a lot of very valuable real estate there," he said of the Sears downtown stores. "But it's only valuable if you can make money operating it. I'm an operator. I'm not a real estate guy and I'm not a finance guy. You can't just keep losing money in locations and pretend they're worth something to you."

He said Simons can count on its solid relationship with the major landlords, among them Cadillac Fairview Corp. and Ivanhoe Cambridge, which is an arm of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. "They're thinking about us and we're thinking about them."

But Simons will be patient, he said. The Ottawa store, which still needs to get municipal approvals, could open by the end of 2008.

Privately held Simons, which has more than $200-million of annual sales, expects each of its new stores to be in the black in the first year of operation, he said.

Another Quebec retailer, Les Ailes de la Mode, made a disastrous foray outside of Quebec and was forced to retreat. But Mr. Simons said he will be cautious in his expansion. "My thing isn't just about big rapid growth. It's overdone."
 
G

ganjavih

Guest
Retail: Simons

I have one simple request for Toronto... La maison Simons!

LogoClient.gif
 
I

interchange42

Guest
I'm with you on that Nige!

I can't go to Montreal without spending some money at Simons.

42
 
G

ganjavih

Guest
I can't go to Montreal without spending some money at Simons.

They had an incredible post-Christmas clearance... I blew a small fortune there.
 
B

building babel

Guest
Well done ganja. That is why you were placed here on earth.

We live in a consumer society. Our shared responsibility, as good consumers, lies in keeping the economy from periodically tipping into recession ... by buying stuff.

For my own part, I acquired an ankle-length Yohji Yamamoto wooly jumper in
N()IR on Saturday in their sale - drastically reduced.
 

Skeezix

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 25, 2007
Messages
4,343
Reaction score
2,677
Location
East of this, west of that
I'm surprised that their first store outside of Quebec will be in Edmonton, but I suppose they seized an opportunity when the space became available.

Quebec's Simons set to head west

The Globe and Mail, 20 January 2011
MARINA STRAUSS — RETAILING REPORTER


Quebec retail magnate Peter Simons is a fan of U.S. discount giant Target Corp. – he checks out its stores frequently and has even used its affordable fashion concept as inspiration for lines at his La Maison Simons department stores.

Now that Mr. Simons is set to launch his first Simons mega-store outside Quebec – in 2012, several months before Target's planned arrival – he's sending his staff south to study his impending rival more carefully.

But Simons is stepping up its game at a time when competition is intensifying as new entrants invade the Canadian market. An array of U.S. retailers, including clothier J. Crew, are set to cash in on this country's relatively buoyant economy by rolling out new outlets over the next few years. Others, such as department-store chains Nordstrom and J.C. Penney, are studying a foray into Canada. The jockeying is also highlighting a dearth of retail space.

Simons, a fashion destination for Quebeckers, is betting that its mix of cheap-chic styles and pricey designer lines will resonate outside of Quebec, including in the United States. By later this year, Simons will expand its e-commerce, currently available across Canada, to U.S. customers.

“We've looked at Target's merchandise and will continue to do it,” said Mr. Simons, 46, who at 6 foot 5 inches stands out in the crowd in a three-piece pin-striped suit. “You have to be very conscious of your competition, below you and above you [in price]. I've visited a lot of Target stores. Now that they're coming, yes, we'll look at them again, much more closely.”

The family-owned business, founded in 1840 by Mr. Simons' great-great-grandfather, faces other hurdles in branching out in Canada, such as the Bay, which is bolstering its performance under new leadership (and U.S. ownership). As well, Simons remains an unfamiliar banner in English Canada – putting added pressure on Mr. Simons to get it all right.

“It can be a very tight market,” said Harley Oberfeld, chief executive officer of Oberfeld Snowcap in Montreal, one of Canada's top retail-real estate advisors. “But Simons is extremely good at what they do and there's no doubt in my mind that they're going to be successful wherever they open in Canada,”

When Simons expanded from its base in Quebec City into Montreal in 1999, it was unfamiliar to many people in that city but quickly took off, Mr. Oberfeld said. “You walk into a Simons store and it's busy – there's action.”

The action seems to translate into business. With sales of more than $300-million, privately held Simons generates $600-plus of sales per square foot – more than three times those at the Bay, Mr. Simons said. It does it by selling $10 store-brand Twik T-shirts, similar to ones available at cheap-chic Swedish rival H&M, along with $5,000 Balmain dresses. Each store is designed differently in a bid to keep customers longer: the downtown Montreal store, for instance, features a specially commissioned $300,000 suspended glass sculpture by late Montreal artist Guido Molinari.

Mr. Simons estimated that he invests almost seven times more in his stores than the Bay, which is in the midst of a major overhaul. “I think it will pay off in the long run.”

The chain's relatively high productivity allows it to place four to five times more staff on the floor, compared with the average North American department store, he said. New items arrive daily, compared with closer to twice a year even five years ago.

Mr. Simons borrows a page from the Target playbook by gambling on talented designers, providing them with a retail platform as well as help to produce their work.

Mr. Simons is counting on his formula to work outside Quebec, but with some twists. His Edmonton store will respond to local tastes by carrying more casual wear – including jeans – and less high-end dressy clothing, he said. It will stock larger sizes – people in that city are on average two sizes bigger than Quebeckers, his research found.

He's also learned from his mistakes. He doubled the size of one of his Quebec City stores last fall but sales didn't meet his targets. The layout is more open and “free-flowing” than the ones in his other outlets, making it a little more confusing for customers to figure out different departments.

Today one of his big challenges is finding the right space for his stores, which at up to 100,000 square feet each are more than 10 times larger than many clothing outlets. Landlords are often locked into long-term leases with anchor tenants or restrictive rules with other retailers, which ban newcomers such as Simons from setting up shop in the same retail category.

Mr. Oberfeld predicted that with creative thinking and re-working spaces, landlords will find room for Simons. Mr. Simons, who has been on the hunt for ideal locations for the past five years, is looking for stores in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Winnipeg.

“I'm gambling that there are places in the country where people are ready for a more unique, less cookie-cutter experience,” Mr. Simons said.

______

BY THE NUMBERS

1840

John Simons opens his first store in Quebec City, selling dry goods from England and Scotland.

7

Number of Simons stores in Quebec – Montreal area, Quebec City area and Sherbrooke.

12

Number of stores Simons plans to open in English Canada, starting with the West Edmonton Mall in 2012.
 

Bayer

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Mar 14, 2008
Messages
1,666
Reaction score
1,554
I love Simons; been shopping there since the 80's. Excellent service; 30 min. alterations; lots of staff to help you; great looking stores.
 
G

gabe

Guest
I love Simons; been shopping there since the 80's. Excellent service; 30 min. alterations; lots of staff to help you; great looking stores.

Excellent service? lots of staff to help you? Now that's something you don't see in Ontario departmenet stores!!! The other day i spent like 10 mins walking around Sears looking for an open checkout counter.
 

Bayer

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Mar 14, 2008
Messages
1,666
Reaction score
1,554
What I like about them is that it is suitable for more diverse age groups than the teen-rag stores infesting most shopping centres. I've found great dress pants in interesting fabrics, such as mixes of wool and silk, and great cuts, for reasonable prices ($70 to $125). Compare that to the Bay, which is either Dowdy Central, more rags for teens or Hugo Boss (nice if you want your clothes to decompose after one season).
 

samsonyuen

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
Messages
465
Reaction score
3
So they're taking over a corridor and the stores around it. It'll be interesting to see what the layout will be like.
_________________

Simons to dominate mall’s Europa Boulevard

Quebec retail giant four times size of West Edmonton Mall’s H & M

By Bill Mah, edmontonjournal.com
January 20, 2011

EDMONTON — La Maison Simons isn’t your typical new store opening at West Edmonton Mall.

For starters, the store will be so large that it will take over an entire corridor of the mall’s Europa Boulevard on Level 2 of Phase 3.

“We’re going to have to move in excess of 12 tenants to accommodate Simons,” said West Edmonton Mall president and CEO Don Ghermezian on Thursday. Some of the existing retailers will be relocated and others bought out and the store will take up some common space as well.

At 120,000 square feet, Simons will be nearly the size of the mall’s current Zellers store and four times its H & M shop.

Simons is expected to open in August 2012.

Simons coming to West Edmonton Mall is also remarkable in that it will be the popular Quebec clothing retailer’s first store outside its home province.

While traditional department stores are struggling to hold on to market share and losing sales to other retailers, the 170-year-old Quebec City-based chain is in growth mode.

The Edmonton store will be its eighth.

Industry observers describe Simons as a retail success story, selling affordable to high-priced fashions for men, women and home, including top designers and its own house labels.

“I think it’s a fantastic addition to the shopping centre,” Ghermezian said.

“I think it just furthers the notion that we’re front-runners in the retail industry and in the shopping centre industry. We’re always out searching for unique tenants or uses that you don’t normally find in every market.”

The mall has pushed in recent years to be the entry point for new U.S. retailers such as Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works, Ghermezian said.

“They’ve been so successful with their launches into Canada that it’s really snowballed into a lot of other retailers looking at coming in.”
 

Coruscanti Cognoscente

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
Messages
7,838
Reaction score
369
Location
Imperial City
ZOMG Simons! Toronto must be on their targets! Pleeeeease buy those two historical buildings across from the Eaton Centre and build a store there!

EDIT: I was thinking about what to write in a tweet and for a couple seconds I was thinking of writing "Simons coming to Canada!" before I realized that didn't really work...
 

Top