Vancouver outdoor-equipment retailer MEC plans to open several shop-in-shop locations within Hudson's Bay Co. department stores this fall.
The first three of those locations are to be in Greater Toronto area department stores. Another three locations are set to open in early 2023, although the exact locations for those stores remain under wraps.
MEC's rationale to open the 7,000 to 12,000-square-foot kiosks is that it enables the brand to be more convenient to shoppers who are unable to go to the much larger MEC-branded stores.
The move is a win for Hudson's Bay because it enables the department-store chain to sublease what might have been excess square footage, while also becoming a destination for some shoppers who otherwise would not have gone to a Hudson's Bay store, said Retail Insider Media owner and retail consultant Craig Patterson.
He believes that if the three Toronto area stores show success, the next few stores in the roll-out could be in the Maritimes, in Ontario outside Toronto or in other underserved markets.
"You could see these stores in secondary communities were MEC doesn't have a location, such as Red Deer, Alberta," he said.
MEC operates 21 stores in Canada while Hudson's Bay runs 84 department stores.
MEC CEO Eric Claus in a release hailed the partnership between his 51-year-old company and the 352-year-old Hudson's Bay as being in part due to "aligned values to our deep roots in Canadian culture and local communities."
MEC was originally known as Mountain Equipment Co-op. It then rebranded and only used the letters MEC. In 2020, it filed for protection from creditors under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). It then sold to the American firm Kingswood Capital Management, which is unrelated to the Vancouver Segal family's Kingswood Capital Corp.
The company now uses the acronym MEC but also calls itself Mountain Equipment Co. in marketing materials.