Paris-based luxury brand Louis Vuitton has opened its first standalone store in Calgary as it shifts its strategy to open standalone stores in major malls. The beautiful 4,450 square foot CF Chinook Centre store was busy on its opening weekend, according to shoppers in the mall, and its success could lead to other luxury brands looking to open in the centre.
At the same time, Louis Vuitton’s ground-floor concession at Holt Renfrew in Calgary’s CORE shopping centre has closed, marking the end of the brand’s run in the city’s downtown where it has been doing business for many years. The brand operated a small concession at Holt’s former downtown Calgary store which, in 2008, relocated to a much larger space that was originally created for now defunct department store chain Eaton’s.
Vuitton’s CF Chinook Centre store took up four former retail spaces and is located on the mall’s ground level across from the mall entrance to anchor Saks Fifth Avenue, which opened in February of this year. The impressive Vuitton store features a curved facade consisting of a combination of Lacewood in a stitch pattern with brushed copper and pale gold trim with an integrated flower pattern metal mesh.
The store includes a room dedicated to travel with an on-site hot stamping machine. For the first time in Calgary, the store features a footwear department for men and women, and it also carries a range of leather goods and accessories. The store lacks Vuitton’s ready-to-wear collections, however, which are only found at its standalone flagships at 150 Bloor Street West in Toronto as well as at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.
Retail Insider’s Mario Toneguzzi wrote about the Calgary store’s opening last week, where a retail expert and mall management commented on the opening, as well as what it represents for the centre and the city.
Vuitton’s move to CF Chinook Centre could help landlord Cadillac Fairview secure other luxury brands for the mall, which already houses prestige retailers such as Tiffany & Co., Burberry and Harry Rosen. Nordstrom opened its first store in Canada at CF Chinook Centre in September of 2014 and its other anchors include Saks as well as a Hudson’s Bay store, which offers the most upscale offerings of any Bay store in Alberta.
CF Chinook Centre sees about 14-million visitors annually. While the downtown CORE might claim higher numbers, many of those are office workers whereas CF Chinook’s footfall is, for the most part, consumer driven. Weekends at CF Chinook Centre can be packed while the downtown core feels a lot quieter.
Louis Vuitton operates stores across Canada. The luxury brand opened its first Canadian store at 110 Bloor Street West in Toronto in 1983, spanning about 2,000 square feet. A second location opened as a concession at Holt Renfrew in downtown Vancouver in 1987 and in 1989, another concession opened inside of the Ogilvy department store in downtown Montreal. Louis Vuitton’s second standalone store in Canada opened in 1996 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and in late 2010, it was expanded to 10,000 square feet, making it the first ‘Maison’ in Canada and Vuitton’s 12th globally at the time (to mark the occasion, the company spent $1.5-million on a party that included a trip on a 70-year old steam engine train).
In Toronto the spring of 2012, Louis Vuitton vacated a 6,000 square foot flagship store at 111 Bloor Street West for an 18,000 square foot ‘Maison’ flagship location at 150 Bloor Street West where it continues to operate to this day. Louis Vuitton also operates concessions at Holt Renfrew stores in Vancouver (which was vastly expanded in 2016), Edmonton, and at two Holt Renfrew stores in Toronto (50 Bloor Street West and Yorkdale Shopping Centre). In Toronto, as well, Louis Vuitton operates a 1,200 square foot concession inside of Saks Fifth Avenue at CF Toronto Eaton Centre (it opened in February of 2016, facing the southwest corner of Queen Street West and Yonge Street) as well as a 3,200 square foot concession at Ogilvy in Montreal.
And while the CF Chinook Centre store is the only standalone location for the brand in Alberta, Vuitton operated a 3,000 square foot store at Banff’s Cascade Plaza shopping centre which closed in the spring of 2011.
Louis Vuitton is picking up the pace with its expansion in Canada. Last fall, it opened a men’s shop-in-store at Holt Renfrew in Vancouver, which remains one of only a handful in the world to date. That Vancouver concession marked the beginning of a significant expansion for the brand in Canada that will continue well into 2019.
Towards the end of this year, Louis Vuitton will unveil a substantially expanded concession at Holt Renfrew at 50 Bloor Street West in Toronto and according to a building application, it will encompass about 2,650 square feet. Standalone units in Edmonton and at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre are also in the works, according to Louis Vuitton, and the brand will also grow its presence at the new ‘Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’ which is under construction in Montreal.
Louis Vuitton is a division of luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (‘LVMH Group’), which includes several leading luxury brands under its corporate umbrella. Louis Vuitton was founded by a man of the same name in 1854, and now boasts a network of nearly 500 stores globally. The company saw revenue somewhere between $9.28-billion and $11.6-billion (US dollars estimates) in 2017, placing it as either the top or second luxury brand in the world in terms of annual sales — Chanel saw sales of nearly $10-billion US dollars last year, according to the company. Italian luxury brand Gucci, which is seeing explosive growth, is expected to surpass both of them by the end of this year after seeing about $7.1-billion US dollars in revenue in 2017.