By Craig Patterson
French luxury brand Louis Vuitton , known particularly for its monogram canvas products, has opened a large standalone storefront at West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton. The impressive space is now the brand’s third-largest unit in Canada, as Louis Vuitton continues to expand its operations further in this country. West Edmonton Mall, itself, is in the process of creating a ‘luxury centre run’ its second level that will see more high-end tenants moving in.
The new West Edmonton Mall Louis Vuitton store spans more than 4,600 square feet in total leased area with about 3,300 square feet dedicated to retail. The store’s facade is comprised of limestone pieces that were cut into flower medallions in a combination of smooth and rough finishes, which provides a subtle play on Louis Vuitton’s emblems, according to the company. A transparent metal mesh on the facade with Louis Vuitton’s monogram floral logos also provide visibility into the store.
Toronto-based dkstudio led the design execution of the new Edmonton store, which was designed by Louis Vuitton Paris.
While European luxury brands often import fixtures from overseas, Louis Vuitton incorporated local craftsmanship for the new Edmonton store. Local furniture maker Kenton Jeske was responsible for creating three wooden fixtures for the store, including a counter near the store’s entryway, a console in the lounge seating area, and a round display table in the men’s ‘leather goods universe’. Canadian artist Tim Reckner was commissioned to create an art piece called “Pink Moon”.
A local group of students used traditional methods of beading and tufting on a piece of Louis Vuitton leather that has been displayed under glass in the display console in the store’s lounge area. To continue with the Canadian theme, French photographer Alex Strohl produced two images of the Canadian landscape that are prominently displayed in the store.
Product categories in the new store include men’s and women’s leather goods as well as shoes, accessories, fragrances and candles. The store currently doesn’t stock Louis Vuitton’s ready-to-wear collections, which are only carried in Canada at the brand’s flagships in Toronto and Vancouver.
The West Edmonton Mall Louis Vuitton store occupies part of a 6,270 square foot retail space formerly tenanted by retailer Banana Republic. Edmonton-based fashion brand Workhall recently opened a storefront in the remainder of the former Banana Republic space next to Louis Vuitton, where it expected to remain for an extended period of time.
The area surrounding West Edmonton Mall’s Louis Vuitton has seen the addition of upscale retailers over the past few years. Across from the new Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. opened a 3,300 square foot storefront in October of 2013, and other upscale stores followed including Kate Spade, Coach, Stuart Weitzman, Marc Cain and Gemoro/Rolex. Coach recently renovated its store in the area, including adding a first-to-Canada Coach accessory wall. More retailers are on the way for the immediate area — Canada Goose recently announced that it will open a large store across the hall in the fall, featuring a ‘cold room’ to test out parkas in sub-zero temperatures. Rapidly expanding fashion brand UNTUCKit will open next to Canada Goose, with Mackage and Matt & Nat set to open storefronts nearby.
More luxury brands are said to be in talks to open nearby as well. With the closure of downtown Edmonton’s Holt Renfrew next year, brands such as Gucci are expected to be targeted by West Edmonton Mall landlord Triple Five Corporation to open standalone units. As high-end brands are added, West Edmonton Mall is creating something of a ‘luxury wing’ similar to that of Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Louis Vuitton is such a strong brand that experts say that it could seal the deal for other high-end brands looking to locate nearby.
Several years ago West Edmonton Mall was considering repositioning the nearby ‘Europa Boulevard’ into a luxury avenue — Europa Boulevard is known to many for its mock-European facades in a glass-enclosed corridor that is anchored by a 126,000 square foot La Maison Simons store, which opened in October of 2012.
West Edmonton Mall welcomes about 28-million guests annually and according to Retail Council of Canada’s most recent Shopping Centre Study, the ‘main run’ of the mall has annual sales per square foot of $1,182. That’s slightly above Edmonton’s Southgate Centre which is Canada’s fifth most productive mall, according to the same study.
Louis Vuitton will close its downtown Edmonton Holt Renfrew location at the end of December of this year, and Holt Renfrew itself recently announced that it will close its 32,000 square foot store on January 11, 2020.
Louis Vuitton has had a presence in downtown Edmonton’s Holt Renfrew store at Manulife Place for years. It started with a small accessory counter in the early 1990’s in an area now occupied by cosmetics, and it eventually expanded into a concession that was made possible with a minor store expansion on the main floor several years ago. Sources say that the downtown Louis Vuitton concession sells in the range of about $20-million annually, representing about half of all sales at the downtown Holt Renfrew location.
In Canada, Louis Vuitton is expanding its presence, including opening standalone units to replace Holt-Renfrew concessions in several locations. In October of 2018, Louis Vuitton opened a 4,450 square foot store at CF Chinook Centre in Calgary, which replaced a smaller downtown Calgary Holt Renfrew concession that closed as a result. Calgary’s Louis Vuitton also carries an expanded assortment of leather goods and accessories as well as jewelry and footwear, though it doesn’t carry ready-to-wear collections for men or women. Only two Louis Vuitton ‘Maisons’ in Canada carry the brand’s ready-to-wear collections, including the 150 Bloor Street West location in Toronto as well as the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver location in Vancouver.
Louis Vuitton’s first Canadian store opened at 110 Bloor Street West in Toronto in 1983 in partnership with luxury retailer Ira Berg, spanning about 2,000 square feet. A second location opened as a concession at Holt Renfrew in downtown Vancouver in 1987 and in 1989, another concession opened inside of the Ogilvy (now ‘Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’) department store in downtown Montreal. Louis Vuitton’s second standalone store in Canada opened in 1996 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and in late 2010, it was expanded to 10,000 square feet, making it the first ‘Maison’ in Canada and Vuitton’s 12th globally at the time (to mark the occasion, the company spent $1.5-million on a party that included a trip on a 70-year old steam engine train).
In the spring of 2012, Louis Vuitton vacated a 6,000 square foot flagship store at 111 Bloor Street West in Toronto to open the impressive 18,000 square foot ‘Maison’ flagship location at 150 Bloor Street West where it continues to operate to this day. Louis Vuitton also operates concessions at Holt Renfrew stores in Vancouver (which was vastly expanded in 2016), Edmonton (closing in December), and at two Holt Renfrew stores in Toronto (50 Bloor Street West and Yorkdale Shopping Centre). In Toronto, as well, Louis Vuitton operates a 1,200 square foot concession inside of Saks Fifth Avenue at CF Toronto Eaton Centre (it opened in February of 2016, facing the southwest corner of Queen Street West and Yonge Street). Vuitton once also operated a 3,000 square foot store at Banff’s Cascade Plaza shopping centre which closed in the spring of 2011.
Louis Vuitton also operates a recently opened men’s accessories concession at Holt Renfrew in Vancouver (a Canadian first) and late last year, Vuitton unveiled a substantially expanded concession at Holt Renfrew at 50 Bloor Street West in Toronto, spanning 2,650 square feet. Vuitton will also grow its presence at the new ‘Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’ which is under construction in Montreal, and a temporary Louis Vuitton shop recently opened at the current Holt Renfrew store on Sherbrooke Street while the new Holt Renfrew Ogilvy location is under construction. Montreal-based Plan It Construction built-out the temporary Vuitton shop at Montreal’s Holt Renfrew, which itself is an impressive high-quaity looking space.
Louis Vuitton is a division of luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (‘LVMH Group’), which includes several leading luxury brands under its corporate umbrella. Louis Vuitton was founded by a man of the same name in 1854, and now boasts a network of nearly 500 stores globally. In terms of revenue, Louis Vuitton is either the top or second top-selling luxury brand in the world in terms of annual sales, with Chanel and Gucci also boasting sales exceeding $10-billion (Canadian dollars).
We’ll continue to follow Louis Vuitton’s expansion into the Canadian market, including the opening of the new Holt Renfrew Ogilvy concession as well as other proposed standalone units. Sources say that at least two more standalone Louis Vuitton stores could open in Canada. More details will be revealed when permitted.
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