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HomeSense hits Toronto market

TORONTO — The TJX Companies' home format crossed the Canadian border last week with HomeSense, the new home fashions discount store offshoot of TJX's Winners Merchants, the Canadian off-price family apparel retailer.

HomeSense broke into the Toronto market with stores in Ancaster and Brampton, and it plans to open five this year.

"HomeSense represents a significant retail trend combining great brands, outstanding quality, tremendous values and one-stop shopping for home fashions and gifts," said David Margolis, president, Winners Merchants. "Ultimately, we believe Canada can support 60 to 80 HomeSense stores."

The domestics area in the Winners' stores always did very well, said Connie McCulloch, vp, dmm, HomeSense. And, in fact, it represented 18 percent of store sales. That prompted the company to open a stand-alone home format in Canada, emulating TJX's HomeGoods stores in the United States.

McCulloch said 40 percent of HomeSense's merchandise is domestics, which concentrates on "critical mass items" such as sheets and towels, but also includes bath furniture and accessories, shower curtains, area and accent rugs and more. She declined to name any of the brands offered, however, since part of the reason the store can offer such low prices is because it doesn't advertise those brands, she said.

Each store will be about 25,000 square feet, offering product including cookware, linens, rugs, accent furniture and seasonal items, at 20 to 60 percent less than department and specialty stores, the company said. Locations in Woodbridge and London will open on May 3, and units in Ottawa and Kingston on May 17. Another store in the greater Toronto area will open in the fall.

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