How Square One Became One of Canada’s Top Malls

Mississauga’s Square One shopping mall has seen major changes over the past several years. Formerly a mid-market centre catering primarily to locals, the expanded mall is now a luxury destination that continues to add new retailers at a variety of price points, with a level of productivity that places it among the top malls on the continent. 

Investing in the customer experience has been key to Square One’s success, according to mall manager Greg Taylor. Landlord Oxford Properties has spent a fortune since 2013 overhauling the mall, including renovating common areas as well as expanding and adding new retailers. Improvements will be ongoing, according to Mr. Taylor, as Oxford Properties continues to invest in its top centres in light of increasing competition. The overall goal is to create positive experiences for consumers who patronize the mall, recognizing that shoppers have taken their valuable time and resources to visit the centre. 

(Click above for interactive Google map) 

(Click above for interactive Google map) 

(Click above for large Square One mall map) 

(Click above for large Square One mall map) 

Improving the centre is paying off, in terms of productivity as well as increased footfall. A Retail Council of Canada study, which will be released shortly, ranks Square One highly in terms of productivity, footfall and overall size. Square One is one of Canada’s most productive malls, with sales in excess of $1,000 per square foot, according to Mr. Taylor. The mall is also one of Canada’s busiest, with an estimated 24 million annual visitors in its 2 million + square feet of retail space. 

In 2013, Oxford Properties began renovating the existing mall’s flooring and ceilings, as well as upgrading lighting throughout. One of the first new components to Square One was a food court overhaul. In 2013, it relaunched under the name ‘Food Central’, featuring scullery service, flatware and plates. It’s been so successful that sales have surpassed an impressive $3,000 per square foot at Food Central, according to Mr. Taylor. Food and beverage continues to be an important component to Square One, with the addition of several full-service restaurants. A large Moxie’s Bar & Grill opened in the mall’s $60 million north wing in 2014 and Jamie’s Italian, a restaurant concept by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, opened over the summer in the mall’s south ‘luxury wing’. 

(Exterior entrance to Jamie's Italian) 

(Exterior entrance to Jamie's Italian) 

The mall’s 2014 north expansion included the addition of Ontario’s largest Forever 21 store, measuring in excess of 35,000 square feet. In March of 2016, the mall’s north end continued to see new retail with the opening of Quebec City-based large format fashion retailer La Maison Simons — its first store in Ontario. The 109,400 square foot Simons is next to Sport Chek, which opened its 73,350 square foot Square One flagship in November of 2015. 

Mississauga is growing rapidly, said Mr. Taylor, with Square One occupying the heart of the city’s burgeoning downtown core. The diverse population is also seeing higher incomes and, with that, an increased desire to purchase high-end goods. Recognizing this, Oxford Properties struck a deal with Holt Renfrew and a number of other upscale retailers and in July of this year, the mall’s new south-end 'luxury wing' opened to the public. Holt Renfrew, itself, is an impressive 130,000 square foot Janson Golstein designed space featuring dramatic soaring ceilings, natural light and a remarkable collection of luxury brands. Gucci has just opened a mall-facing concession at Holt’s, and Moncler is on the way soon, according to Holt's. Italian luxury brand Salvatore Ferragamo opened its largest Canadian store across from Holt’s in the mall’s luxury wing over the summer, close to the glamorous relocated location for upscale menswear retailer Harry Rosen. Rolex opened a boutique in the wing last week as well, and we’re told that a number of other brands are in talks to open nearby. 

(Mall entrance to Holt Renfrew in the mall's new 'luxury wing') 

(Mall entrance to Holt Renfrew in the mall's new 'luxury wing') 

(Holt Renfrew to the left, Ferragamo to the right) 

(Holt Renfrew to the left, Ferragamo to the right) 

(Ferragamo to the left, Harry Rosen to the right) 

(Ferragamo to the left, Harry Rosen to the right) 

The mall’s 203,500 square foot Hudson’s Bay also addressed Square One’s increasingly upscale demographic, having recently completed a substantial renovation to bring it in line with recently upgraded units in Toronto (CF Toronto Eaton Centre, Yorkdale and CF Sherway stores) and Calgary (Southcentre). Hudson’s Bay’s interiors are now bright and modern, and several new upscale fashion lines have been added.  

(Holt Renfrew opened over the summer) 

(Holt Renfrew opened over the summer) 

(Canada's 2nd Ben Sherman opened in the summer next to German retailer Marc Cain) 

(Canada's 2nd Ben Sherman opened in the summer next to German retailer Marc Cain) 

To better serve its increasingly affluent clientele with enhanced experiences, Square One introduced valet parking in September of 2014 on its north end. In March of 2016, a second valet parking area opened in the mall’s south end and soon after, Holt Renfrew introduced valet parking along with the opening of its Square One location. A unique feature to the mall’s valet parking is its versatility — if you drop off your car with a valet at one side of the mall, attendants will drop off the vehicle in another location in the centre upon request.

For those wishing to self-park, Square One has introduced an innovative parking feature to the mall as well. At shopsquareone.com/parking, shoppers may view a map showing where there are spaces available, and find strategic parking spaces accordingly. The mall’s south expansion also recently introduced bay-by-bay parking indicators, showing which parking spaces are available. 

(Escalators in luxury wing to parking) 

(Escalators in luxury wing to parking) 

(Escalators leading from south parkade to mall) 

(Escalators leading from south parkade to mall) 

(Valet lounge) 

(Valet lounge) 

(Massimo Dutti opened at Square One last week) 

(Massimo Dutti opened at Square One last week) 

(Rolex opened in the mall's 'luxury wing' last week) 

(Rolex opened in the mall's 'luxury wing' last week) 

Square One continues to add exciting retailers and within the past week, new store openings have included Canada’s second Urban Decay cosmetics store, as well as an 8,000 square foot Inditex-owned Massimo Dutti location, operating under the same ownership umbrella as Zara. Calgary-based Swimwear retailer Swimco, which we profiled last week, will open its first Ontario store at Square One on December 12. Toronto’s Downtown Porsche will also be opening a showroom in the mall under the name ‘Fascination Porsche’, which will be an added upscale draw to the centre. In 2017, Toronto-based beauty brand Deciem will open in the mall, as will Reds Wine Bar, in a 7,000 square foot space near Simons and Sport Chek. 

Mr. Taylor notes that the mall’s landlord will continually make improvements to Square One, including the addition of new retailers, new food and beverage offerings, and new amenities and experiences. More changes will be coming in 2017 as the mall continues to upgrade and expand to serve the burgeoning Mississauga region.

Canadian Retail News From Around The Web: December 6, 2016