FGL Sports to replace Chapters on Robson Street

Indigo CEO blames rent increase for leaving iconic location

Chapters has occupied the corner of Robson and Howe streets since 1998 | Google Street View

Calgary-based FGL Sports will replace the Chapters bookstore on Robson Street when the bookstore's lease expires June 30.

Indigo announced early afternoon January 19 that will leave the prime location that it has occupied for 17 years.

“Recently, a very significant rent increase made continued profitability untenable,” the company said in a release. “Indigo plans to open another location in the same Vancouver trade area this year.”

Warrington PCI manages the 52,000-square-foot site. Its representative, CBRE senior vice-president Mario Negris, confirmed to Business in Vancouver late afternoon that "the site has been spoken for."

He then revealed the tenant to be FGL Sports, which operates brands such as SportChek, Atmosphere and Sports Experts among many others. It was not immediately clear what brand would occupy the space. 

Negris would not reveal the lease rate but he said space on the ground floor was "closer to $200 than $100." Given that the space has three levels, he said that the blended rate "wasn't anywhere near $200."

The prime blocks of retail on Robson Between Burrard and Bute streets are considered to be the second highest priced strip of retail space in Canada, after Toronto's Bloor Street. 

Indigo CEO Heather Reisman said that Chapters intends to relocate to another location in the "Robson trade area" in 2015, although the size and location of that future store remain unclear.

At least one location that Chapters has looked at is not on Robson Street, according to Negris. 

Reisman explained that the Robson Street location had to close because the store would be unprofitable as the proposed lease renewal’s “terms are simply untenable for us to stay in that location."

A person who identified himself as the store manager at the Robson Chapters location estimated that the store has about 50 staff. He expected that there would be a large sale in the lead-up to the store’s closure.

Indigo plans to keep its store at Granville and West Broadway open and to move the what it calls its American Girl specialty boutique from the Robson location.

What was then known as Chapters Inc. opened both its Robson Street location and its West Broadway at Granville Street location on August 12, 1998.