Microsoft Store to open in Toronto later this year
Microsoft Corp. plans to bring its first international retail outlet to Toronto before the end of the year, marking the first time the world’s largest software company has opened a standalone store outside the United States.
Microsoft chief operating officer Kevin Turner revealed the company would be opening a Microsoft Store to Toronto during a keynote address at the company’s annual Worldwide Partners Conference at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Wednesday.
The first Canadian Microsoft Store will open in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre later this year.
Microsoft had been rumoured to be opening a retail outlet in Canada for several months, but Wednesday marked the first time the Redmond, Washington-based company confirmed its plans to open a standalone store outside the U.S.
Microsoft’s new Toronto outlet is part of a large scale retail ramp up for the company, as it looks to capitalize on a slate of new products on tap for later this year, including new versions of the company’s flagship Windows operating system, Windows Phone software and Microsoft Surface tablets.
With its Microsoft Stores, the software giant is hoping to create a more direct relationship with consumers, borrowing a page from the playbook of other technology giants which have seen success with their own standalone retail locations, including Sony Corp. and Apple Inc.
Microsoft said it plans to hire 50 employees to staff the new 6,845 square foot retail outlet “as soon as possible.”
In an interview with the Financial Post, Microsoft Canada president Max Long said the company’s decision to place its first international retail outlet in Toronto shows the commitment the software giant has to the Canadian market.
“I’ve seen the stores in the U.S. and I’ve had the opportunity to shop in the stores on many occasions, and to have this presence in Canada will be very exciting for us and for consumers as well,” he said.
As for whether Microsoft plans to open any other retail outlets in Canada, Mr. Long said he could only comment on the store opening in Toronto.
Microsoft isn’t the only technology giant to set up a retail presence in Canada this year. In April, Samsung Electronics Canada revealed it planned to open several standalone retail outlets across Canada as it seeks to build on the success of the company’s televisions and Android-powered smartphones and tablets. The first of those retail outlets opened in Burnaby, B.C. on Wednesday.
While Samsung has outsourced the actual operation of its retail outlets to third party companies, Mr. Long said Microsoft Stores are wholly owned and operated by the company and that the staff at the Toronto store will be considered Microsoft employees. Both Sony and Apple own and operate their respective retail outlets.
At the Toronto Microsoft Store, like at other Microsoft Stores, consumers will be able to purchase Microsoft Xbox video game consoles, phones running the company’s Windows Phone software, laptops and other devices running on Windows and of course, all of the software Microsoft produces. The company also plans to have employees trained to offer service and advice to customers.
“It’s going to be a very clean, uncorrupted and very fresh store environment,” Mr. Long said.
Mr. Long said Microsoft wants to “maximize the holiday season” and that the Store will give consumers the chance to experience Windows software and other products from Microsoft and other manufacturers.
Microsoft opened its first retail outlet in Scottsdale, Arizona in October 2009, and currently has 20 outlets in the United States.