Rendering: City of Montreal

Canada's largest Holt Renfrew store will eventually be located in Montreal, though it will go by a different name. Holt Renfrew will merge with Montreal's Ogilvy as it spends $60 million to create a 220,000 square foot flagship in an expanded Ogilvy premises on Ste Catherine Street West. The current Holt Renfrew store on Sherbrooke Street West will then close. Construction on the new store begins in the fall of 2014 and is expected to be completed some time in 2017.

The new store will be called Ogilvy, part of the Holt Renfrew & Co. collection.  The name is rather long and we think many shoppers will refer to the combined retailer simply as 'Ogilvy', especially as it will be located within the current Ogilvy building. The current 160,000 square foot Ogilvy building will be expanded by about 60,000 square feet northward to create the new 220,000 square foot store.

Incredibly, insiders (including sources at Womens Wear Daily) speculate that sales in the new Ogilvy/Holt's store could be as high as $250 million annually. If so, these could be the highest department store sales in Canada, surpassing those of Hudson's Bay's Toronto flagship. 

The strategy to combine the two retailers is an interesting one. Montreal will technically lose its dedicated Holt Renfrew store on Sherbrooke Street West. However, it will gain an even larger luxury department store that can compete head-to-head with Saks Fifth Avenue, which will open within Hudson's Bay's Ste Catherine Street West store in downtown Montreal. When finished, Saks will be a mere 800 metres east of the new Ogilvy/Holt's. 

We expect that the new retailer will be similar to the company's Selfridge's store in London, though possibly more focussed on the luxury consumer. Selfridge's is considered to be one of the world's most innovative retailers, and it offers a wide variety of merchandise and pricing. We've been doing some research and giving it some thought, and we think that the new Ogilvy by Holt's will likely include the following improvements:

New 'luxury hall' for designer boutiques: We expect the new retailer to feature multiple luxury designer boutiques in a sort of "luxury street" similar to what Selfridge's group has created for its London store as well as for its de Bijenkorf store in Amsterdam. Luxury boutiques could include Hermès, Dior, Chanel, Gucci, Fendi, Miu Miu, Mulberry and others. Apart from a few luxury boutiques on Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal generally lacks luxury 'high streets' like Toronto's Bloor Street or Vancouver's Burrard/Alberni Streets. We expect Ogilvy/Holt's to capitalize on its large ground-floor space by featuring multiple luxury boutiques to compliment existing Ogilvy retailers such as Louis Vuitton. 

Massive Shoe Hall: We expect Holt Renfrew will create a massive women's shoe hall that will include separate boutiques for the likes of Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, and others. We'd expect this to be similar to the recently opened shoe hall at Holt Renfrew's Yorkdale store in Toronto, though on an even grander scale.

A substantial, luxurious men's store: We expect to see a large and luxurious men's store within the new Ogilvy/Holt's, offering such amenities as shaving services, shoe shines, personal shopping and a relaxation lounge, among others. We're not sure where it would go, yet, though we think it will be over 30,000 square feet as it attempts to compete with rivals Harry Rosen, L'Uomo and Saks Fifth Avenue.

A top-notch women's designer floor: We expect that the women's luxury clothing offerings at Holt's will be expanded and that there will be larger boutiques for Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Akris, Giorgio Armani and others. We also think Holt's will bring its couture salon concept over from its current store.

More fine jewellery: We think an expanded jewellery selection will build on Ogilvy's current H. Stern and Christofle boutiques to include many of the world's finest jewellers, such as Graff, De Beers, Bulgari and others.

Expanded cosmetics as well as beauty services: We expect cosmetics operations between the two retailers to be merged and improved upon with the increased square footage of Ogilvy/Holt's. Holt Renfrew already features a broad selection of cosmetics vendors, and more space will allow for a wider assortment of brand offerings. We'd expect the new store to also feature a spa, hair salon, and other beauty services carried at other Holt's flagships.

Restaurants: We expect to see at least one restaurant offering, if not several, in the new store. Restaurants aren't our specialty so we'll leave it at that.

Eliminated furniture department: Currently, Ogilvy carries furniture items on an upper floor. We think that continuing to carry furniture would be incompatible with Holt Renfrew's current merchandising strategy and that furniture will therefore be eliminated with the new store's opening.

More details of the combined Ogilvy/Holt Renfrew store will come available in the coming weeks. Keep reading for updates.

[Ogilvy website]

[Holt Renfrew website]