Photo: Google Streetview Screenshot

Calgary's downtown Hudson's Bay store turned 100 years old this week, and it will substantially reduce its retail space both on its ground floor as well as its top level. Ground floor space will be lost to a restaurant, while the top level will eventually be entirely devoted to an event facility. 

A 7,500 square foot restaurant will occupy the south-west portion of the store's ground floor, and a further 4,000 square feet of basement space will be devoted to a lounge. Given that each floor of the Hudson's Bay store is about 50,000 square feet, the restaurant represents a loss of about 15% of the store's ground-floor retail space.

Ground floor retail space, in cities where pedestrians primarily access retail from the street, is considered to be prime. Hudson's Bay recently removed men's furnishings on the ground floor of its flagship Toronto store to open one of the world's largest shoe floors. We've been told shoe sales have been stellar, and that the floor expects sales in excess of $1,000/square foot. In Calgary, on the other hand, many shoppers use a series of elevated walkways to access downtown retail. 

The entire sixth floor of the store will eventually be dedicated to an event space. Including the ground-floor restaurant, Hudson's Bay will reduce the downtown store's retail space by about 20%. 

Despite Calgary's wealth and population, downtown Calgary's Bay store lacks much of the luxury found in its Toronto, Vancouver and (soon) Montreal stores. Toronto and Vancouver Hudson's Bay stores include ~20,000 square foot luxury women's departments called The Room, and Montreal will open The Room next year as well. Toronto's Hudson's Bay has an in-store Burberry boutique, and several more productive Bay flagships are seeing partial or complete overhauls. Calgary's downtown Bay lags behind these, partly due to its proximity and lack of connectivity to the popular Core Shopping Centre located downtown, which includes considerable retail and a large and luxurious Holt Renfrew as its anchor. 

Hudson's Bay is leasing space in its stores to make way for new concepts, including retailers and restaurants. It leased 20,000 square feet on the 7th floor of its flagship Toronto store to NYC-based Kleinfeld Bridal, and it could eventually open Kleinfeld in Calgary. Hudson's Bay has dedicated substantial square footage to TopShop at several of its stores, though these are HBC-owned franchises. Saks Fifth Avenue will soon take the largest chunk of existing Hudson's Bay retail space, expected to be in the hundreds of thousands of square feet. Restaurant space has and will continue to be added to other Bay stores, though not to the same degree as in this Calgary location. Time will tell how much retail space Hudson's Bay will reposition in its existing stores. 

On the plus side, the aforementioned ground-floor restaurant will include what could become Calgary's largest outdoor dining patio. And the sixth-floor event facility will no doubt be popular and be very useful for those seeking event space. Being Retail Insider, we don't generally report on restaurants. The restaurants are expected to be excellent, however, and we direct you to this press release for more details on what will likely become a very popular dining and event location. 

[Source: Press Release]

[Hudson's Bay website]