By Craig Patterson (in collaboration with Maxime Frechette)
Montreal’s newly rebranded Holt Renfrew Ogilvy is on track to become one of the world’s most significant luxury fashion stores. Last week the flagship unveiled its new concourse-level beauty hall, as well as its massive new fourth-level menswear floor. The store’s brand matrix is unmatched and adds considerable competition to the local market, and it is expected to become a tourist destination as it grows to become one of North America’s largest luxury stores in terms of overall square footage.
The store has the space to make it all happen. The expansion to the existing Ogilvy building will result in a massive 250,000 square foot store when it’s finished construction next year, at a cost of more than $150-million. The space was designed by Jeffrey Hutchison & Associates Inc., in coordination with architects Lemay, and with Gensler designing the new Ogilvy façade for the expansion of the store.
Historic architectural elements have been maintained while new contemporary features contrast the overall design. When the project is completed next year, the famed Ogilvy building will look very different than the previous version. That includes a much higher average price-point on merchandise than at the smaller Ogilvy store that has operated at 1307 Ste-Catherine Street West since 1912. The storied department store was founded in 1866.
The Holt Renfrew Ogilvy expansion is part of Holt Renfrew’s $400-million investment to revitalize and enhance its network of stores across Canada. The Vancouver flagship expansion and renovation is also nearly complete, and a substantial overhaul of the Bloor Street flagship is also ongoing into 2020. This fall, a 10,000 square foot expansion will be unveiled at the company’s highly productive Yorkdale Shopping Centre unit.
When the store is finished next year, Holt Renfrew Ogilvy will dominate luxury brand shopping in downtown Montreal. While Harry Rosen is expected to remain strong with its more formal menswear offerings, Holt Renfrew Ogilvy could gain precious market share from other competitors at a time when some retailers in Montreal are struggling.
Beauty Hall Opening:
The concourse-level beauty hall, which was relocated from a department on the store’s street-level, is now the largest beauty department in the entire eight-store Holt Renfrew chain. About 25,000 square feet of the store’s basement level now contains some of the world’s leading beauty brands, as well as the store’s sunglass department.
In total, 30 skincare, fragrance and colour brands have vendor shops in the new beauty hall. That includes brands such as Chanel, Givenchy, La Mer and Tom Ford, as well as exclusive to Holt Renfrew Ogilvy vendors including Chantecaille, Charlotte Tilbury, Christian Louboutin, Cle de Peau, Erno Laszlo, Gucci Beauty, La Prairie, Maison Christian Dior and Sisley.
A collection of fragrance shops include brands such as Bulgari, Creed, Guerlain, Hermés and Jo Malone, with exclusive to Holt Renfrew Ogilvy brands that include Byredo, Chopard, and Bastide. The adjacent Holt Renfrew Ogilvy Scent Shop presents world renowned brands including Goutal Paris, Atkinson, and Serge Lutens.
As with the Toronto Holt Renfrew beauty hall that opened late last month, the new Holt Renfrew Ogilvy beauty hall in Montreal includes a dedicated ‘Clean Beauty area’ with brands including 111 Skin and Grown Alchemist, both of which are exclusive to the store in Montreal. To make the beauty hall experiential, there are pop up event spaces throughout the floor that will feature regular beauty animations.
In the summer of 2017, Holt Renfrew’s expanded Vancouver flagship saw its own beauty hall relocated to the store’s concourse level, spanning about 16,000 square feet in an area that formerly housed a menswear department. The impressive marble-clad department includes 29 brand counters and nine private cabines that provide facial and skincare treatments by appointment. Last week, Holts unveiled a 12,000 square foot concourse-level beauty hall at its 50 Bloor Street West flagship in Toronto focused on skincare and fragrances with 45 skincare, fragrance and colour brands. Later this year, a ground-floor area featuring beauty and colour brands will also be launched in a space spanning more than 4,000 square feet.
Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’s 25,000 square foot beauty hall is not only the largest in the fleet of Holt Renfrew stores, it is also one of the largest beauty halls in all of Canada. Hudson’s Bay’s downtown Vancouver flagship is said to have the largest beauty hall in the country with more than 40,000 square feet on its ground level, with Hudson’s Bay’s Toronto Queen Street and Montreal Ste-Catherine Street stores also including expansive beauty offerings.
New Men’s Floor:
Last week as well, Holt Renfrew Ogilvy debuted an impressive 40,000 square foot fourth-floor men’s store that features many of the world’s leading luxury brands, in a dramatic environment that includes 25 vendor shops, possibly the most of any similar store on the continent.
Vendor shops for brands such as Balenciaga, Brioni, Burberry, Brunello Cucinelli, Celine, Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Gucci, Moncler, Prada, Saint Laurent, The Row, Tom Ford and Valentino are showcased along the periphery, with several set to open soon as construction progresses. Other well-known designer brands include Thom Browne, Balmain, Givenchy, Junya Watanabe, Comme des Garcons, Acne and others.
(Above: Men’s boutique areas for Brioni, Balenciaga and Gucci. Photos: Maxime Frechette)
The floor’s new multi-brand men’s suiting area features brands such as Ermenegildo Zegna, Canali, Eleventy, Isaia, Paul Smith, and others.
The large men’s footwear salon on the same level includes many of the world’s leading luxury brands, as well as a Christian Louboutin concession and a dedicated Gucci area, both carrying expansive offerings.
A dedicated men’s grooming area includes shop areas for brands such as Creed, Hermés, Tom Ford and Acqua di Parma. A soon-to-open dedicated men’s personal shopping suite, designed by Quebec-based Martin Brûlé Studio, will offer styling services as well as privacy for clients.
In June of this year, the fourth-floor men’s department will connect directly to the soon-to-open Four Seasons Montreal Hotel and Private Residences, with the entrance leading to the hotel’s ‘Social Square’ area. The Four Seasons Hotel will include nearly 170 hotel rooms costing hundreds and even thousands of dollars nightly, as well as a super-luxurious condominium apartment building above. The 18 condominium residences, the smallest of which will be more than 3,000 square feet, had a starting price of more than $5-million with penthouses asking more than $13-million each. As a result, Holt Renfrew Ogilvy will have a base of affluent customers literally on-site.
The 40,000 square foot men’s store is now by far the largest in the Holt Renfrew fleet of stores. The Vancouver and Calgary men’s departments are about half that size, and Holt’s standalone men’s store at 100 Bloor Street West measures about 16,500 square feet, according to its landlord. The Bloor Street men’s department will be relocated to the third floor of Holt’s 50 Bloor Street flagship next year, in about 25,000 square feet of retail space.
Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’s men’s store is also one of the largest men’s stores in all of Canada, surpassed only by men’s departments at Hudson’s Bay flagships and several La Maison Simons stores, as well as Harry Rosen’s 55,000 square foot flagship on Bloor Street West in Toronto.
Harry Rosen’s 33,000 square foot Montreal flagship on Peel Street could take a hit if consumers embrace Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’s massive new men’s floor. The stores each cater to somewhat different demographics — Harry Rosen features a more traditional designer assortment that includes suiting and dressier offerings, while Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’s fashions are generally more youthful and casual, with both stores being pricey. Both stores also feature exclusive brands not found at other stores — Rosen’s features brands such as Giorgio Armani, Loro Piana and Kiton, which aren’t at Holt Renfrew Ogilvy. Both stores carry brands such as Tom Ford, Zegna, Brunello Cucinelli, Canali and Moncler.
Other high-end menswear stores in Montreal will no doubt take notice of Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’s offerings, including the luxurious L’Uomo store on Peel Street (across from Harry Rosen) which was once considered to be Canada’s most prestigious men’s store with the most expansive offering of luxury brands. Both L’Uomo and Harry Rosen are expected to retain their top loyal clients, though some shoppers may take a second look at Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’s newest offerings as menswear becomes more informal in the workplace.
More to Come for Holt Renfrew Ogilvy: Spring 2019 into 2020
Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’s highly-anticipated ground floor, which will be made up primarily of leased brand concessions, will include boutiques for world-famous brands including Burberry, Celine, David Yurman, Dior (about 2,000 square feet), Fendi (about 700 square feet), Gucci, Hermès (about 3,000 square feet), Louis Vuitton, Prada (about 2,300 square feet), Tiffany & Co (now open with 2,500 square feet), and Chanel (which opens in September), among others. The ground-floor Louis Vuitton boutique will be temporarily relocated to the current Holt Renfrew store on Sherbrooke Street West while a new store is constructed for a spring 2020 opening.
More luxury leather goods brands will be found on Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’s second-floor in the spring of 2020, along with an expansive jewellery department that will include some big names. A large women’s footwear hall will also open on the second-level, a floor which once housed women’s ready-to-wear. Last year the company said that the footwear department would measure about 8,000 square feet, though it could end up being larger as plans are said to have been updated.
On Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’s third level, opening next year, a designer womenswear floor will carry some of the world’s leading luxury brands in a series of shop-in-stores as well as in dedicated multi-brand departments. As well, there will be extensive personal shopping departments, including ‘the Apartment’ for top-spending customers that features an expansive, tastefully-decorated private space.
A free shuttle service between Holt Renfrew Ogilvy and the Holt Renfrew store on Sherbrooke Street West is being offered as the renovations continue. In a partnership with Decarie Motors, Range Rover and Jaguar vehicles shuttle shoppers between the two stores.
At 250,000 square feet, the new Holt Renfrew Ogilvy will be one of the largest multi-brand luxury retailers in North America. The Neiman Marcus flagship in San Francisco, which is the largest in the company, is about the same size. The only other luxury stores in North America larger than Holt Renfrew Ogilvy include Bergdorf Goodman in New York City (spanning 316,000 square feet across two buildings according to the company), and Saks Fifth Avenue’s Manhattan flagship at 611 6th Avenue which is almost 650,000 square feet. The current 275,000 square foot Barneys New York Store on Madison Avenue could be reduced in size by half, according to a report last week in the New York Post. (Update: Barneys New York denies that report)
In the fall of 2016, Saks Fifth Avenue announced that it planned to build a 200,000 square foot flagship at the back-end of the existing 650,000 square foot Hudson’s Bay building at 585 Ste-Catherine Street West. It appears that these plans may have been shelved, which means Holt Renfrew Ogilvy will have considerably less competition in the downtown Montreal market. As well, Seattle-based Nordstrom, which carries some of the same brands as the Holt Renfrew chain in Canada, has yet to enter the province of Quebec.
In the Montreal market, one questions if it makes sense for Tiffany & Co. to continue to operate its standalone 2,000 square foot store on Sherbrooke Street West at the Ritz Carlton hotel, which is located less than 250-metres from the new Holt Renfrew Ogilvy. Sherbrooke Street West was once considered to be Canada’s most prestigious retail street with standalone storefronts for brands such as Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Cartier, Davidoff, Ungaro, Sonia Rykiel, Pratesi, Georg Jensen, Versace and others, though over the years most have shuttered with Escada and Tiffany & Co. remaining as being among the last holdouts. Once the expansion and renovation to Holt Renfrew Ogilvy is completed next year, as well, the 83,000 square foot Holt Renfrew store at 1300 Sherbrooke Street West will close after 83 years of operating in the same building.
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd. Email Craig: firstname.lastname@example.org