It’s easy to become old news in the fashion world especially at a time when so many retailers are closing up shop in Canada. But after 43 years in the business, Roots Canada is defying the odds. Made famous for their beaver logo and salt and pepper jogging pants, Roots has plans to open at least 14 Canadian locations within the next two years, as well as renovate and enlarge certain stores.
“There’s a lot of things money can’t buy and that’s heritage,” Gabel told BNN in an interview. “The Canadian consumer is passionate about Canada right now.” The Eaton Center Toronto store is covered in Canadian memorabilia, such as a giant wood canoe hanging from the ceiling and leather jackets with hockey stick patches stitched into the arms.
Gabel says patriotism and the popularity of athleisure, work out gear worn outside the gym, are driving in-store traffic.
“We’re seeing double digit comparable sales in the past 10 months alone,” says Gabel.
Last year, Roots sold a majority stake to Searchlight Capital investment firm for an undisclosed amount. Searchlight plucked Jim Gabel from the parent company of Merrel and Saucony, Wolverine World Wide, to run the retailer and help with its expansion.
Gabel notes demand for such goods isn’t restricted to Canadian consumers, with Roots boasting a 107-store presence in Taiwan and plans to push further into Asian markets.
“We will expand through this partnership into China, [where] we already have 20 stores,” he said.
Gabel also said new majority stakeholder Searchlight Capital has expressed a willingness to allow the company to take its time in expanding, a trait not always present when private equity firms enter the picture.
“Searchlight is patient,” he said “There is no mandate of when we have to grow.”
Struggling retailers in Canada over the past two years:
- Danier Leather to close 76 stores
- New-York based teen store Aeropstale will close all 41 Canadian locations
- Montreal-based Parasuco closed all 7 brick-and-mortar locations in Canada
- Mexx plans to close 95 stores in Canada
- Womenswear retailer Costa Blanca closed all Canadian locations
- Holt Renfrew closed its Ottawa and Quebec City locations
- Future Shop closed all Canadian locations
- Telus closed all 59 Black’s photography locations
- Gap plans to close 175 North American locations by end of 2016. The confirmed number for Canadian stores has not been released.
- Reitmans to close all 107 Smart Set locations
- Bombay, Bowring & Co. and Benix & Co said it would close all 110 stores
- Jacob closed all 92 locations
- Sony Corp. to close all 14 Canadian locations
- Nine West Canada filed for bankruptcy protection and has closed at least 1 store