The loss of three retail shops at Bower Place Shopping Centre has opened the door for new tenants, says mall general manager John Rooke, who expects to make announcements in this regard shortly.
“We’ve got a few real positive deals coming down the pipeline,” said Rooke.
“I think we’ve got some pretty exciting new-to-market stuff in Red Deer that we should see before the Christmas holiday season for sure.”
Those new stores are needed to fill the void created by the departure of Carlton Cards two months ago, Please Mum on July 11 and Naturalizer Shoe Shop on Aug. 20. The leases for Carlton Cards’ and Naturalizer’s premises were not renewed, said Rooke, and Please Mum closed unexpectedly after the Vancouver-based children’s clothing retailer filed for protection under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.
Please Mum continues to operate 21 stores — fewer than a quarter of its previous total — including two in Edmonton and one in each of Medicine Hat, Fort McMurray, Sherwood Park and St. Albert.
“As a result of significant shifts in the retail landscape, we’ve had to make tough decisions about the future of our company,” said company founder and chief executive Kathryn Adrian in a message posted on Please Mum’s website. “We’re restructuring our business in the long-term interests of the company, our employees, customers, suppliers and creditors.”
With 4,600 square feet of space and direct access to the exterior of the mall, the former Please Mum premises should be attractive to the right tenant, said Rooke.
“We don’t have anything right now but obviously the economy seems to be looking pretty strong in Alberta, so it won’t be long before we have someone in that space.”
He expressed optimism about the state of the retail sector, which Rooke said appears to be on the rebound.
“We’re noticing an increase in traffic and sales seem to be up,” he said. “We expect it to only increase throughout the year.”
Rooke said companies in the United States, where the economy is less robust, are looking north for expansion opportunities.
“There’s a real profound interest in a lot of U.S. retailers that may not have done business in Canada before but are eyeing Canada as a growth market.”