Leon’s furniture in Charlottetown has confirmed that it is re-locating to the former Sears building in the late spring or early summer.
“It’s funny how rumours sometimes become a reality,” said Kyle Hann, general manager of Leon’s, as well as director of procurement for the DP Murphy Group of Companies, the owners of the Charlottetown Leon’s franchise.
Hann said Leon’s is purchasing 38,000 square feet in the former Sears building on Malpeque Road. He explained the space acquisition is similar to purchasing a condominium.
In turn, APM, the owner of the former Sears building since the fall, is in the process of finalizing an agreement to buy the Sherwood Leon’s building at 134 St. Peters Rd. A Wendy’s restaurant is being built in the lot next to Leon’s.
Tim Banks, CEO of APM, said the company is currently finalizing an agreement to purchase the existing Leon’s building. He added that the building will be renovated (and not torn down and rebuilt) with two tenants moving in.
Besides Leon’s, Banks said a couple of tenants will be leasing space in the former Sears building – a new business to the city and an existing business looking to expand.
“Both of those will be announced by the tenants themselves,” he said.
APM is also working on a deal to bring a national, Montreal-based retailer to occupy “a significant size portion of the building as well.”
“That retailer is not in Prince Edward Island yet. So, we hope to have that deal closed off in the next 60 days.”
The overall size of the former Sears building is 109,000 square feet. Sears opened in Charlottetown on St. Patrick’s Day in 2005. APM developed the property and worked with Sears to open the department store. In June 2017, Sears Canada filed for bankruptcy. After liquidating its assets, the Charlottetown store officially closed in January 2018.
Leon’s has been at the St. Peters Road location for about 30 years. Hann said that the business has been actively looking for a larger space for the past five years.
Currently, the Leon’s building is 18,000 square feet – 9,000 square feet both upstairs and downstairs. Moving into the new, larger space will be good for staff and customers since it will allow the business to double its appliance and furniture offerings.
“That’s what we’re excited about,” Hann said. “We’re undersized for our business model, so we really do need a little more space.”
Leon’s has around 25 employees (depending on the time of year). With the new space, the business is looking to add four to six additional positions.
“The challenge with Leon’s is if you went to a larger market, there are 70,000- or 80,000-square-foot stores (or) 50,000-square-foot stores. And we generate a great volume out of that little footprint, but we can’t show even a quarter of the assortment. So now, we’re going to be able to show a much broader assortment and, hopefully, give customers a much better shopping experience at our store.”