By Craig Patterson
Iconic Montreal-based jewellery retailer Maison Birks has reopened its overhauled Montreal flagship on Phillips Square, which now includes a soon-to-open on-site luxury hotel as well as several new premium luxury branded shop-in-stores. The renovated retail space reflect’s the company’s latest concept, which is customer-centric and more casual in its design than the previous store.
“With the opening of our new flagship store in downtown Montreal we have set what is now the highest standard for luxury jewellery and timepiece shopping in the country, says Jean-Christophe Bédos, President and CEO, Birks Group. We are welcoming back within our doors some of the world’s leading brands in our category and are now able to offer an unparalleled selection to our customers, both local and visiting,” he added.
Birks has occupied the same building since the year 1894 and according to Eva Hartling, Vice President, Brand Management & Chief Marketing Officer at Birks Group, it was the second Montreal location for the company that was founded by Henry Birks in 1879. Many of the historic architectural details of the store have been preserved, including the store’s royal warrant as well as doors, pillars and other elements that give the historic building its unique and beautiful charm.
Montreal-based architectural firm Aedifica assisted Birks in the redesign of the space at 620 Sainte-Catherine Street West.
“Our Birks Collections of Fine Jewellery, Gifts and Engagement Rings are featured prominently in our new flagship space, said Ms. Hartling, going on to say, “With new displays that allow customers to browse at their own pace, we now offer a comfortable and casual shopping concept that is in line with our target clientele of women self-purchasers as well as fine jewellery connoisseurs and international timepiece aficionados.”
The store now spans 7,700 square feet on street-level and according to Ms. Hartling, the ‘right-sized’ space has been modernized with the contemporary customer in mind. The store’s interior features a lighter colour palette, modern fixtures, and increased natural light in an airier layout that allows for casual browsing. Included is a new ‘Birks Bridal Bar’ where a bride-to-be can bring several friends to look at rings in the store.
Several new shop-in-store boutiques for some of the world’s leading brands are now contained in the flagship. A 650 square foot Van Cleef & Arpels boutique has opened in the store, as well as an 800-square foot Rolex boutique, and shops for Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Breitling, Tag Heuer, Chaumet and Messika. Birks has the exclusive in Canada for Van Cleef & Arpels (excluding its two standalone corporate stores) with Van Cleef & Arpels shop-in-stores also contained within Birks’ flagship Toronto and Vancouver stores. Rolex returns to Birks after a long absence as well, while the company solidifies relationships with other leading luxury brands carried in its various stores.
The store features the expansive private-label Birks Collection merchandise, as well as the company’s extensive offering of diamonds, many of which are Canadian.
It also has a pop-up area in the front of the store where Ms. Hartling said the retailer will regularly have rotating collections and collaborations — the aim is to have something new for guests every time they visit.
Included, as well, is the Birks Concierge Service, which is there to assist clients with such things as creating bespoke jewellery, or to source any of the one-of-a-kind jewels that might be contained in-store. Thee’s also the ‘Birks Lounge’ which offers a chic-looking relaxing area where books and heritage Birks pieces frame a Nespresso coffee station.
The Maison Birks retail store is located at the base of the new Hôtel Birks, which will open towards the end of next month and occupies much of the historic Birks building. The hotel will have between 115 and 120 rooms and will be positioned as high-end. Renderings show a beautiful property with an elegant lobby as well as hotel rooms and common areas (see slideshow above).