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This article was published 18/12/2008 (3165 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Only days after international home furnishings giant IKEA unveiled plans to build a new 350,000-square-foot destination store in southwest Winnipeg, a spokeswoman for one of the world's largest clothing and fashion retailers-- Sweden-based H&M -- said it's also got its eye on Winnipeg for expansion.
"We are expanding throughout Canada and we're always looking for new and great cities to expand into," Emily Scarlett said Thursday. "And being a major city, Winnipeg is definitely on our radar screen."
It may be Manitobans' free-spending ways that is starting to attract the attention of big-league players, according to retail analyst John Winter and developer Sandy Shindleman.
Not only did the province chalk up the country's second-biggest increase in retail sales in 2007 (9.4 per cent), but new Statistics Canada figures Thursday show it's also been one of the leaders this year, with the second biggest September-to-October gain (0.7 per cent), the third-biggest October-over-October increase (7.0 per cent), and the third-biggest year-to-date increase (8.7 per cent).
"That's going to impress people and get them coming here," Shindleman said.
He and the local developer who helped bring IKEA to Winnipeg -- Michael Nozick of Fairweather Properties -- both predicted there'll be plenty more big retailers coming to Winnipeg over the next four or five years.
Nozick said he's negotiating with two big international outfits -- he wouldn't say which -- that are interested in being part of the same 1.5-million-square-foot retail development that Fairweather and IKEA are planning for Kenaston Boulevard and Sterling Lyon Parkway.
"There are many others (large international chains) who aren't here, but they will be here," he said. "And the fact IKEA is already here will bring them much, much sooner."
While Nozick wouldn't name names, Shindleman rattled off half a dozen U.S. retailing giants that are either looking to enter Canada, or are already here and looking to expand across the country.
They include building and home supplies giant Lowes, outdoor sporting goods retailer Bass Pro Sports, auto parts suppliers Pep Boys and AutoZone, and tire retailers Tire One and Discount One.
Shindleman said if they come to Canada, they'll eventually land in Winnipeg. That's because the city offers many of the things destination retailers are looking for, including free-spending consumers, large tracts of land with good transportation, and retail-friendly governments.
"They need a fertile welcome from government... and we have a kind of unprecedented harmony within the last year or two, with the province and the city being on the same page (when it comes to accommodating new retail development)," he said.
Winter said a large and growing population is also a must. With a population of close to 700,000 people -- 712,000 if you include the 10 surrounding bedroom communities in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area -- Winnipeg has what it takes, he said.
"Seven hundred thousand people is one hell of a large market and most retailers should be in a market of 700,000 people."
H&M is rumoured to be looking at the former Canada Safeway space in Polo Park Shopping Centre, but Scarlett and Polo Park general manager Deborah Green would neither confirm nor deny that.
A spokesman for Bass Pro Sports was also noncommittal about whether it's interested in opening one of its superstores, which can be 150,000 square feet in size, in Winnipeg. He said he wasn't aware of any such plans, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.
-- With files from Mathew Preprost