Chico's announces international expansion

Chico's (NYSE: CHS) is the latest U.S. retailer to set its sights on Canada. The women's apparel and accessories chain will open new stores in Ontario, beginning this fall.

The women's clothing retailer has planned three Canadian boutiques in Toronto-area shopping malls, the first of which will open in late August. The stores will open at Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga, Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket and Mapleview Shopping Centre in Burlington. The design of these stand-alone stores will be based on a new prototype, according to the company.

Chico's currently operates about 700 stores in the U.S. under Chico's FAS Inc., which owns the signature label as well as White House|Black Market, Soma and Boston Proper. This will be the first time Chico's stores will open north of the border, although Chico's FAS Inc. already operates three White House|Black Market stores in Toronto. Those stores opened last year.

"We believe Canada is a great addition to the international footprint for Chico's, as it represents a natural extension of the brand," said David Dyer, president and CEO. "From our robust customer file, we already know that there are a significant number of Chico's customers in Canada."

Chico's news is the latest in a string of moves by U.S.-based retailers expanding into Canada, a country known for being tough on U.S. retailers. Nordstrom is preparing to open six Canadian department stores. The first will open in Calgary this fall, followed by stores in Ottawa and Vancouver in 2015.

Nordstrom officially announced its expansion to Canada in September 2012. Since then, U.S. retailers such as Target (NYSE: TGT), Big Lots (NYSE: BIG) and Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) have struggled to stay afloat in Canada largely due to problems with merchandise assortment, understanding customer tastes and product delivery.

For more:
-See this Chico's press release

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