Britain's Topshop enters Canada with Hudson's Bay deal

Wed Mar 9, 2011 3:24pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Hudson's Bay Co has won the right to launch trendy British fashion brand Topshop in Canada, both as standalone stores and in its Bay department stores, as the influx of foreign retailers into the Canadian market continues.

Hudson's Bay -- which operates retail chains the Bay, Zellers and Home Outfitters -- said on Wednesday it plans to open women's apparel Topshop and men's apparel Topman stores within its Bay stores in the fall.

The announcement highlights the draw of the Canadian market for foreign retailers.

Earlier this year, Target Corp, known for its cheap-chic apparel, said it was buying the leases of a number of Zellers stores from Hudson's Bay.

Swedish budget fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz, operator of H&M stores, and Zara, owned by Spanish clothing retail giant Inditex, have also moved into Canada, which did not suffer as badly as many global markets in the financial crisis.

"What it says is that there's a lot of room for growth in the lower price points," Len Kubas, chairman of retail consultants KubasPrimedia, said of the Topshop entry.

Kubas said he expects Topshop to be priced higher than Zara and H&M. "It's going to give the Bay a lot more credibility among the young fashionistas," he added.

Topshop has operations in 37 countries. Celebrities such as British supermodel Kate Moss have joined forces with Topshop to develop clothing lines.

Topshop will face local players such as Reitmans, Le Chateau and Loblaw Cos Inc-owned Joe Fresh, which already jostles with U.S. players such as Gap Inc and Abercrombie & Fitch for market share.

Founded in 1670, Hudson's Bay Co operates 92 Bay department stores and 69 Home Outfitters, as well as discount stores under the Zellers brand. Hudson's Bay is owned by U.S.-based private equity group NRDC Equity Partners, which also owns the Lord & Taylor chain in the United States.

(Reporting by S. John Tilak; editing by Peter Galloway)

<p>Pedestrians walk past a Hudson's Bay store in downtown Ottawa July 16, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>