120 stores in four years
Grocery giant Loblaw Companies Ltd. is bringing its Joe Fresh discount clothing line overseas in a major expansion that will target fashionistas in key growth markets like the Middle East and North Africa.
The company said Thursday the rollout includes the addition of 120 Joe Fresh stores in 25 countries, including South Korea and eastern Europe over the next four years.
“This is representative of what has been a long-standing belief on our part that there is an international level of opportunity for the Joe Fresh brand,” said Galen G. Weston, the company’s executive chairman.
Currently, Loblaw sells the apparel brand at more than 300 locations inside its Canadian supermarkets, and in 12 stand-alone and studio stores. It also has six locations in New York and New Jersey.
The clothing line is already available in J.C. Penney stores in the U.S., but Weston said the deal hasn’t gone according to plan due to restructuring and leadership changes at the struggling U.S. retailer.
“It obviously hasn’t gone like we hoped that it would,” he said. “But we are comfortable they are committed to some lower volumes but to a sustained relationship with Joe Fresh so we continue to be optimistic about that.”
Last year, tragedy overshadowed the clothing brand after a factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, that produced Joe Fresh clothing collapsed, killing 1,100 people. Loblaw responded to the accident by providing financial compensation for workers and dependents of the company who made the clothing.
Earlier Thursday, Loblaw reported better fourth-quarter financial results than analysts were expecting. Loblaw president Vicente Trius also said Loblaw will also be expanding its e-commerce platform this year by running a test pilot on a “click-and-collect” option for groceries at three of its Toronto locations.