Canadian retailer Loblaw has decided to test its low-priced fashion Private Brand Joe Fresh in New York City. The Joe Fresh branded store will open in Manhattan this fall, in a historic transparent glass building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 43rd Street, the retailer announced Wednesday.
Loblaw has long been a leader and a trendsetter in the Private Brand world so it nice to see them continue to take risks and push the envelope. Joe Fresh I New York is one hell of a risk and hopefully with the huge risk comes huge reward.
The launch comes almost five years after Loblaw first brought Joe Fresh to Canadian shoppers in their stores, where the Private Brand posted blockbuster sales — will begin cautiously with four stores opening this year in the New York area.
“It will be very much a pilot project,” Loblaw president Allan Leighton told a CIBC World Markets investor conference and web cast on Wednesday.
The strategy puts Joe Fresh much farther afield than retail watchers originally envisioned for the brand, which last year began opening stand-alone stores in Canada to boost its profile outside of Loblaw and associated stores. Loblaw plans to open more of the stand-alone boutiques in Ontario and Alberta over the next year.
The building housing the flagship Joe Fresh, near the New York Public Library and Bryant Park, was erected in 1954 as a five-story bank branch.
“Joe Fresh definitely has an opportunity there, and the U.S. is looking for more and more cheap chic,” said Kaileen Millard-Ruff, vice-president of retail at market research firm Synovate Canada. “And the designs don’t look cheap chic, they look more sophisticated. It all comes down to whether Loblaw will put the cash into it to do it properly, because in New York you have to look like a big thing to be a big thing … that’s everything on execution from the space, to product, to fixtures, to lighting, to staff. Fifth Avenue is not the cheapest real estate around.”
Joe Fresh, which debuted lines for men and women in early 2006, was conceived by Joe Mimran, who developed the Private Brand for Loblaw after the successful sale of his Canadian apparel and design powerhouse Club Monaco to Polo Ralph Lauren. In 2007, Joe Fresh added sleepwear, lingerie and children’s clothing, and quickly became the top seller of kids’ clothing in the country. In 2009, Joe Fresh branched into bath and cosmetics products.