By Craig Patterson
As retail in Canada continues to polarize at the low and high-end, landlord Cadillac Fairview is creating areas in several of its Canadian malls in an effort to attract a wealthier demographic. It’s a pattern being seen amongst leading shopping centres globally, and is a rather recent phenomena in Canada, which has traditionally seen luxury retail in downtown areas on street fronts.
Clustering luxury brands in one area makes sense for a landlord — high-end brands generally prefer to be within close proximity of each other in order to be conveniently accessible to their target market, which will see a high-end area of the mall as being “for them”. When luxury clustering is successful, the critical mass of spending power can propel these retailers’ sales numbers into the stratosphere.
Several of Cadillac Fairview’s Canadian malls are notable in their creating ‘luxury areas’ that haven’t been seen in the past, with the phenomena being seen particularly in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.
In Vancouver, CF Pacific Centre is seeing something of a ‘luxury level’ having been created on the mall level which houses Harry Rosen and the above-ground pedway over Dunsmuir Street to Holt Renfrew. The Harry Rosen store operates a Zegna boutique across the way with a renovation to be completed in the fall, joining the likes of Max Mara, Pomellato, Mackage, Bose and Stuart Weitzman. Canada Goose and Maje will join the mix this year when they open stores on the same level, which also is home to a highly productive Apple Store. Not all stores on the ‘luxury’ mall level are pricey, however — H&M’s main mall entrance is across from Pomellato, with H&M set to expand to three levels by occupying space downstairs on the primary mall level.
In Calgary, CF Chinook Centre is seeing luxury clustering around a newer part of the mall which houses Harry Rosen, Tesla and Tiffany & Co., as well as an expanded area towards the mall’s Saks Fifth Avenue store, which opened in February of this year. Louis Vuitton has been secured as a tenant for a curved retail space across from the entrance to Saks, and Mackage is also said to have finalized a lease nearby. Tiffany & Co., Harry Rosen, Canada Goose and Burberry are all located in the curved luxury section of the mall, and more luxury brands are said to be in negotiation nearby. It will be interesting to watch what happens in downtown Calgary as Louis Vuitton exits Holt Renfrew for the suburban CF Chinook — some say other luxury brands could follow, adding further struggles to Calgary’s considerably quieter downtown core.
In Toronto, two Cadillac Fairview malls are seeing upscale brands opening stores. The downtown CF Toronto Eaton Centre, which is by far the busiest shopping centre in North America with more than 50-million visitors yearly, houses several upscale brands on its third level, not to mention prestige anchors. Standalone stores operating on CF Toronto Eaton Centre’s third level include the likes of Links of London, Hugo Boss, Sandro, Maje, Mackage, and Ted Baker, with the level bookended by flagships including Nordstrom to the north, and Saks Fifth Avenue/Hudson’s Bay to the south. Nordstrom carries a range of luxury brands with shop-in-store boutiques such as Loewe, Miu Miu, Gucci, Moncler and Stella McCartney, while Saks Fifth Avenue is home to an impressive roster of luxury brands which is among the best in Canada. Hudson’s Bay, as well, houses luxury women’s department ‘The Room’, known for its edgy fashions and impressive gowns, while the store’s men’s department continues to add upscale brands such as Balmain, Marni, Kenzo and, most recently, Paul Smith’s mainline collection in its own dedicated area.
CF Sherway Gardens in Toronto also features several luxury brands, though they tend to be spread out a bit more than in some of Cadillac Fairview’s other Canadian malls. It might make sense that the entire mall is positioned relatively high-end for the most part, though — CF Sherway Gardens is certainly one of the most attractive shopping centres in Canada, boasting an impressive interior, valet parking, and anchors that include a well-stocked Nordstrom as well as a luxury-heavy Saks Fifth Avenue. Other standalone luxury boutiques at CF Sherway include De Beers, Tiffany & Co., Loding, Caudalie and Links of London, while licensed locations for Chopard and Montblanc can be found not too far away.
CF Carrefour Laval near Montreal also features several upscale retailers, in an impressive shopping centre with interior architecture reminiscent of the historical buildings that might be found closer to Montreal’s downtown core. A Montblanc boutique is notable, as is Mackage, Marc Cain, Harry Rosen, and a Birks jewellery store which houses a Breitling shop-in-store. The mall lacks anchors such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, though it boasts a La Maison Simons store with an impressive roster of luxury brands for both women and men. CF Carrefour carries an impressive range of contemporary and international brands, though the Montreal market doesn’t generally spend as much on luxury brands as Toronto and Vancouver and possibly Calgary.
Cadillac Fairview isn’t the only Canadian landlord adding luxury to its malls, though its expansive national portfolio of shopping centres is what makes its luxury offerings notable. Oxford Properties, which boasts its trophy property Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, can no doubt be proud of that and other properties — and as Canada’s retail landscape continues to polarize, we can expect to see more luxury retail at properties under management of landlords such as Ivanhoé Cambridge and QuadReal — the latter which is overhauling Vancouver’s Oakridge Shopping Centre, which could end up giving Yorkdale a run for its money as Canada’s prestige shopping centre if its ambition becomes reality. The same could be said of Shape’s ‘The Amazing Brentwood’ in suburban Vancouver, which recently saw an injection in the form of an investment from LCatterton Group, the investment arm associated with LVMH. LCatterton also recently announced a partnership with Carbonleo to help build the ‘Royalmount’ project on Montreal island which is also expected to feature an area for high-end retailers.