Resilient Vancouver apparel brand Kit and Ace is poised for a rebirth.
CEO David Lui this morning told BIV that he planned this spring to open a store on the north side of West 4th Avenue, between Yew and Vine streets, immediately to the east of Adidas' Terrex store.
"We will open three new stores in Metro Vancouver," Lui said after he participated in a question-and-answer session at the Retail West conference at the Westin Bayshore.
"The other stores will be in suburbs, in malls."
He said he has decided which malls he wants to open stores in but did not want to reveal the locations until leases are signed.
The company has six stores now, including one in Gastown. Lui's plan is to have 10 stores open by the end of 2024. The other planned opening would be in Toronto, he said.
International expansion is possible. He has spent a lot of time networking in China and the company has started live-streaming in marketplaces in that country, he said.
"We're also talking to a significant potential partner based in Dubai for the U.A.E. and Southeast Asia markets to franchise Kit and Ace in those regions," Lui said.
He added that he has been getting requests from people in New York and Los Angeles who want Kit and Ace to open in those cities. Any American expansion would be corporately owned stores, he said.
The venture launched with a store in Gastown in mid-2014. Founded by Lululemon founder Chip Wilson's son JJ Wilson and wife Summer (Shannon) Wilson, it shot out of the gate by opening dozens of stores across the globe. Within 19 months, it had 61 stores in five countries with executives announcing plans to open another 10 locations.
Sales sputtered, however, and by April 2017 the venture announced that it would close all 32 of its stores outside Canada and started to lay off staff at its Vancouver head office.
Unity is owned by fashion designer and entrepreneur Joe Mimran as well as veteran retail executives Frank Rocchetti and Lui, who immediately became the CEO.