The 2000s: A Canadian Retail Review

     From the moment the past decade arrived, we all shared great anticipation for what was to come in this, the first decade of the 21st century. With all of the hype and fears of Y2K eliminated, our thoughts turned to a continuation of the good times and growth of the Canadian economy. Add in low inflation and unemployment, as well as Federal government surpluses, the start of the new decade was very upbeat for the retail community and the country as a whole.

     With that as the starting point, here are the Top Canadian Retail Stories by year for 2000-2009:
2000 – Indigo Launches Hostile Bid for Chapters.
The “Book Wars” change the Canadian literary landscape and their merger in early 2001 helps keep out foreign players and provides a stronger national retail position.
2001 – The Death of Dylex
The sale of the last remaining division closed the chapter on the retail giant that, at it’s peak in the 1980’s, operated 17 specialty chains with 2700 stores in Canada and US.
2002 – Shirmax Acquisition by Reitmans
Adding 108 Addition-Elle stores and 66 Thyme Maternity locations to the Penningtons chain of 122 gives Reitmans the dominant position in the plus size woman’s apparel market.
2003 – SARS Outbreak
Despite Toronto mayor Mel Lastman’s assurances on CNN that travel to Toronto and Canada was fine because he “had never heard of the World Health Organization”, the SARS outbreak caused 24 deaths and cost nearly $1 billion in GDP, mostly in the retail and tourism sectors.
2004 – First New Canadian Shopping Mall Since 1990
Vaughan Mills is the first single-level enclosed super- regional shopping and entertainment mega-complex in Canada that includes manufacturer’s outlets, specialty retail and category dominant stores with one-of-a-kind dining and entertainment venues.
2005 – Lowe’s Targets Canada’s $40B Home Improvement Market
The US’s number 2 hardware and home improvement retailer announces it’s intention to become a major player in Canada and battle it out with the likes of Home Depot, Rona, Home Hardware and Canadian Tire. Their announced strategy is to open stores ( 3 for 2007) as opposed to a merger or acquisition. The stage has been set for future headlines!!!
2006 - Hudson’s Bay Company Purchased by American Investor
Jerry Zucker, a US entrepreneur purchases Canada’s oldest company (formed in 1670) and Canada’s largest department store retailer (550 stores and over $7 B sales) for $1.55B.
2007 – Sam the Record Man Signs Off
Canada’s largest music retailer has closed its iconic flagship, best known for it’s signature double disc neon sign on Yonge Street in downtown Toronto. It becomes the symbol of the impact of technology and the internet on the retail recording industry.
2008 – Global Financial Crisis Shakes Consumer Behaviors
The global credit crunch has led to changes in how consumers view their world and has led to significant shifts in their expectations of value, declines in traffic and sales patterns, and a shift to trading down from luxury.
2009 – Telecoms Expand Their Retail Distribution
With the threat of new entrants in the wireless communications stage coming soon, two of Canada’s national players make acquisitions to strengthen their retail distribution channel. Telus’ purchase of Black’s Photo (113 stores for $28m) and Bell’s acquisition of The Source (750 locations for $135M) leaves Rogers Communications at the proverbial altar.

     It is often said “that the end of one story is the beginning of the next.” There have been numerous eventful and history making stories over the last ten years that have evolved our industry. It is our hope that our list will provide a potential glimpse into those future stories that will continue to shape the Canadian retail industry over the next decade.

Sincerely, Richard Hudakoc – Managing Director


Email us at:
Copyright © 2009
All Rights Reserved
31 Thorny Brae Drive, Thornhill
Ontario L3T 3G5
PHONE: 416.917.6090
FAX: 416.445.4504
Web Site: