With less than 24 hours to go, workers put the finishing touches ahead of tomorrow’s grand opening. The two-storey, 11,000 square foot store is the first Ontario location for the Quebec-based retailer.
Fifth generation CEO Peter Simons says after staying out of Ontario for nearly 200 years, they felt it was the right time to move in the GTHA.
“Am I a little nervous? Yeah sure! I’m always nervous. It’s part of being humble. We’re a small Canadian retailer but we’re gonna fight like hell and kick some butt maybe.”
One of the features that made Simons so popular in Quebec was it’s range of clothing, and prices. One dress sells for $950, a different one, for only $10.
But this range in pricing means Simons competes not only with fast-fashion retailers, but also faces competition from high-end American retailers entering the Canadian market. Less than an hour away in Niagara, Saks off Fifth is making its Canadian debut. They too have their grand opening tomorrow.
And conditions are tough in Canada. Smart Set recently closed its 107 stores. Montreal-based retailer Jacob shut all but five stores. Danier Leather has filed for bankruptcy. And we can’t forget last spring, when Target closed 133 Canadian stores.
A marketing expert says Simons will need to do their research in order to survive.
“They need to bring their A game. They need to make sure they understand this customer, this demographic, this geography, as different then the Quebec customer they’ve dealt with for generations.” said Mandeep Malik from the DeGroote School of Business.
Despite the tough conditions, Simons says they are committed. From the bistro, to the home decor, to the numerous clothing lines, Simons hopes to bring french flair to Ontario.