By Craig Patterson
Quebec City-based large-format fashion retailer La Maison Simons will open its first standalone ‘mini-store’ in early 2019, which will involve relocating the store’s home furnishings ‘Maison’ concept downstairs to a separate floor from the existing Simons store. There will be no access to the upstairs Simons store from the new Maison home concept, which is a first for the company that is known to typically operate stores in the 80,000 to 120,000 square foot range.
The new Simons Maison will span about 4,800 square feet and will be located across the corridor from the escalators at the Metro level that leads up to the ground floor of the multi-level Simons store. Simons boasts a popular private-label home furnishings offering that includes items for almost every room in the home.
Construction on the new downtown Montreal ‘Maison’ home store will commence this fall, with an anticipated opening date of early 2019. Designstead is designing the new space.
Simons is said to be reconfiguring a few departments in its Montreal store and room made by relocating the Maison department could help make space for more footwear. Simons has recently introduced dedicated shoe departments to some of its stores — Simons carries a wide range of fashions that include ready-to-wear and accessories, as well as home furnishings. At the same time, Simons stores lack the cosmetic halls found in traditional department stores, and its handbag offerings are less than that of a store such as Nordstrom or Holt Renfrew.
At some point, the downtown Montreal Simons flagship is expected to see a larger renovation, though that’s been put on hold for the interim while the company sorts out financing for a new high-tech robotic distribution centre, as well as the building of a new store at CF Fairview Pointe-Claire in Montreal and an expansion of another store in nearby St. Bruno. Simons recently announced that for the first time in its 178 year history it is accepting outside investors to help further implement the company’s growth goals.
Simons is doing some exterior renovations to the Montreal building, however. Its Rue Mansfield entrance will be closed, while the store’s other entrances will see renovations that will include installing revolving doors. As well, there will be new lighting and an updated awning system that will repurpose some of the building’s original awning fixtures. Simons is located at 977 Ste-Catherine Street West in a 200,000 square foot building that once housed the city’s Simpson’s department store. Construction commenced in 1928 and finished in 1930, and the building was expanded in 1954. Simons occupies a portion of the mixed-use building which now also houses a cinema, boutiques and restaurants.
This is an interesting time for Canadian retailing, and retailers and landlords are getting creative with their offerings. A retailer like Simons has the opportunity to also spin off other in-house labels into their own stores, which could be a creative solution to finding smaller retail space in locations where 80,000-120,000 square foot spaces are prohibitive. Simons is known for its expansive private-label offering as well as its edgy designer brands carried in its stores, which have been designed to be some of the most unique and attractive retail spaces in the country.
Craig Patterson, now based in Toronto, is the founder and Editor-in-Chief Retail Insider. He’s also a retail and real estate consultant, retail tour guide and public speaker.