The Canadians are coming to Oz: $8 million, 100 stores, low prices and “top customer service”

Three Canadian retailers have confirmed their arrival in Australia next year as part of an $8 million investment in Australia with plans for over 100 stores in Australia.

Fast fashion retailer Point Zero, teen fashion retailer Joshua Perets, and lingerie retailer Le Vie en Rose, will open their first Australian stores next year at Adelaide’s Rundle Place.

While you may not have heard of these retailers they have been extremely successful internationally, with Point Zero having more than 35 stores across Canada and 890 shops in department stores in the US. Joshua Perets also has 35 stores in Canada and La Vie En Rose has 165 boutiques in Canada along with 50 international outlets.

Joseph Waknine, director of Retail Expansion, the company which has the licence to bring the retailers to Australia, told SmartCompany that Australia does not have many chain stores from Canada “so I figured why not bring them”.

Waknine says Canada and Australia share the same values and so he thinks the stores will be well received in Australia.

“We are getting good rent incentives and so that is why we are coming in. It is a good time for us when everybody else is having a hard time,” he says.

“We are not going to put stores everywhere but we will make sure every area will have one. It is not going to be like Cotton On, which is everywhere. We want people to come and look for us and drive to get the product.”

Over the next five years, Waknine says Retail Expansion will open 10 flagship Point Zero stores in Australia from 600 to 800 square metres.

“Point Zero is our fashion forward brand and the collection is massive to fill up the stores it has accessories, clothes, men, women, children, it has everything,” he says.

Retail Expansion plans to open 18 La Vie en Rose stores over the next five years and, ultimately, plans for around 80 stores to be opened in Australia.

“Lingerie is very limited here, La Vie en Rose is very different to La Senza and Bra and Things in the styling, merchandise and price point, it is very close to the Victoria Secret’s Look,” Waknine explains.

He is also predicting big things for the Joshua Perets brand as he says no brands in Australia aim so directly at teenagers.

The Adelaide stores will open on March 18, 2013 and around the same time stores will open in Melbourne, with Sydney to follow in August.

The scheduled opening is slightly behind initial plans to open the first Point Zero store by the end of this year.

“We have chosen Adelaide first because we got the first deal with them and also because we wanted to start slowly to get to know the country very well and not to expose ourselves too much in Sydney and Melbourne and structure ourselves properly,” he says.

In the next year alone, Waknine says Retail Expansion will invest around $8 million in Australia and within a year he will also look to open an online site.

“All of the brands have already online retail internationally, we are not opening a special site here for now but hopefully in the next year for Australia we will have direct sales online,” he says.

Waknine says the Canadian retailers will differentiate themselves from Australian retailers as they are “extremely strong” on customer service and have strong price points because of the volume of the stores and by controlling their own manufacturing in Asia.

“We have over 25 people in the team who are very experienced in retail from merchandising, to management to customer service,” he says.

Waknine says Australian retailers can learn from the Canadians.

“They shouldn’t be worried. They should learn from us how important customer service is and how lacking it is in Australia” he says.



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