By Craig Patterson
Quebec City-based large-format retailer La Maison Simons will be expanding its existing store at CF Promenades St-Bruno in suburban Montreal, to bring the store in line in terms of sizing with other newer Simons stores. The initiative was announced last year and we’ve been updated on how the expanded store will be configured.
Landlord Cadillac Fairview partnered with Simons in the project and as part of the arrangement, the landlord is investing in the expanded store, which will see the existing 65,600 square foot store expanded to nearly 90,000 square feet over two levels. Simons opened its CF Promenades St-Bruno store in 2001 and since then, Simons stores have typically grown in size. The store will be expanded in two phases — a new level will be added upstairs, with completion expected for the summer of 2020. An entire store renovation is expected to be completed by the spring of 2021.
The expansion will be made possible by relocating the mall’s 42,700 square foot Sports Experts/Atmosphere store, which is relocating into the mall’s former Target space. The store’s existing lower level will actually be downsized by about 11,000 square feet as part of the expansion, to create smaller CRUs that will lead into the overhauled Simons space. Simons will remain open during construction.
When finished, the first floor of the expanded St-Bruno Simons will feature the store’s women’s departments as well as its home furnishings department called ‘Simons Maison’. The store’s second floor will feature an expansive men’s department as well as customer service — Simons has an expansive menswear offering that in some stores occupies almost as much space as its women’s departments.
Upgrades to the new store will include new LED lighting standards in the store as well as at entrances for better energy use, and an assessment is underway to determine what other energy saving and generating possibilities exist for the expanded space. Interestingly, the store’s facade will remain basically the same after the expansion, as it was originally designed to be tall enough for two levels, despite the store only being one floor.
McKinley Burkart is designing the expanded St-Bruno store, which is the only Simons location on Montreal’s south shore. Simons currently operates three other Montreal-area stores — a downtown unit which is expanding by opening a standalone lower-level home store, as well as larger units at CF Galeries d’Anjou and CF Carrefour Laval. Simons also recently announced that a fifth location would be opening in the former Sears space at CF Fairview Pointe-Claire in suburban Montreal in the year 2021, spanning about 100,000 square feet over two levels.
CF Promenades St-Bruno spans about a million square feet of retail space and according to the latest Retail Council of Canada Shopping Centre Study, it is one of the largest and most productive malls in the region. Hudson’s Bay is the major anchor in the centre, along with Simons (former anchor Sears shuttered its Canadian operations several months ago). In 2015, landlord Cadillac Fairview completed a $50 million redevelopment of CF Promenades St. Bruno, which included interior modernizations, the revitalization of the centre court, exterior enhancements, and the transformation of its food court into 'Le District Gourmand’.
It was recently announced that Simons, for the first time, has accepted outside investment to help fund a new high-tech 575,000 square foot, $215-million distribution centre in Quebec City that will help grow Simons’ rapidly growing e-commerce business. Online sales now account for about 20% of Simons’ business, according to Peter Simons, and having a state of the art distribution centre will be key to keeping the business operational while also allowing for enhanced growth initiatives both in-store and online — the company continues to see more and more shoppers from the United States as well.
La Maison Simons, which was founded in Quebec City by the Simons family in 1840, opened its first store outside of Quebec in October of 2012 when it unveiled an impressive 125,000 square foot store at West Edmonton Mall. The company subsequently expanded nationally and now includes 15 stores in BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. Of its 15 stores, eight of them have opened since 2012 as part of an unprecedented expansion for the retailer which features a mix of reasonably-priced in-house fashion labels and brands that include some of the world’s top names such as Balmain, Marni, Vivienne Westwood, Nina Ricci, and others.