By Maxime Frechette
The Montreal Eaton Centre on Ste-Catherine Street in Montreal’s downtown core is seeing a $200 million overhaul that will make the centre almost unrecognizable when it is completed before the end of this year. Landlord Ivanhoé Cambridge confirms that about 90% of the space at the new Montreal Eaton Centre has been leased out, and almost all of the stores in the new centre will feature their most updated store concepts. The project will be completed before December of this year.
Confirmed anchors at the new Montreal Eaton Centre will include a massive Time Out Market food hall, as well as French sports retailer Decathlon and large storefronts for retailers such as Sephora, the Gap and Old Navy. Some are speculating that a popular large-format Japanese fashion retailer could be joining the mix, though nothing is confirmed by parties involved.
Background: The newly formed Montreal Eaton Centre involves joining two adjacent shopping centres that both have unique histories. The former Complexe Les Ailes was created out of a former Eaton department store flagship store that once spanned nearly one million square feet. When Eaton closed in 1999, the lower floors of the building were converted into a shopping centre called ‘Complexe Les Ailes’, which was anchored by an impressive 225,000 Les Ailes de la Mode department store. After failing to capture shopping dollars, Les Ailes was downsized to a mere 75,000 square feet at the back-end of the Complexe Les Ailes — the chain continued to flounder and morphed into a discount concept before shuttering.
Adjacent to Complexe Les Ailes was the original Eaton Centre Montreal, which was designed to be an adjacent shopping centre for the massive Eaton department store. Such an arrangement was common in cities across Canada, though most have been renamed over the years except for the iconic CF Toronto Eaton Centre.
What’s to Come: The new Montreal Eaton Centre will be highly experiential with ample food and beverage offerings as well as spaces that will change to keep things fresh. Included will be three spaces for brand activations. That includes a ‘central square’ as well as two other areas to host temporary tenants. The overall look of the space will be grander and with broader sight-lines, including large windows overlooking Ste-Catherine Street as well as large atriums to create visibility and connectivity between the floors. The centre’s overall design will be modernized with a colour palette that will be gray and pale white, with touches of wood.
The centre’s Old Navy flagship store will relocate to the back of the second floor in the overhauled complex, while the most recent Old Navy space will become home to a 10,000 square foot restaurant that will overlook the newly pedestrianized McGill College Street. The City of Montreal announced last year that it would transform the block of McGill College into a public square that will become a focal point for the city.
Ste-Catherine Street Flagships: Four large retailers will occupy the Ste-Catherine Street facade of the new Montreal Eaton Centre. Sephora is confirmed to be one of the tenants. The 10,337 square foot store will feature an entrance from Ste-Catherine Street, as well as from within the shopping centre itself. The store opens later this month.
The Gap will be another tenant with a prominent Ste-Catherine Street frontage at the Montreal Eaton Centre. Another street-facing tenant has yet to be announced for a two-level corner space facing Ste-Catherine Street.
Forever 21 recently closed at the Montreal Eaton Centre with a Ste-Catherine Street doorway, and reopened in a location nearby. A new tenant will occupy the former Forever 21 space at Montreal Eaton Centre space, which will feature two retail levels that will include frontage onto Ste-Catherine Street. Whispers during a tour last week included a rumour that Japanese retailer Uniqlo might be the tenant to take that space, though nothing was confirmed by Ivanhoé Cambridge. Sources confirm that Uniqlo has signed a lease on Ste-Catherine Street and the former Forever 21 space would be a logical choice. As well, for the past several months Uniqlo has been advertising jobs in the Montreal market.
Time Out Market: The highly anticipated Time Out Market will span 40,000 square feet and will consist of 16 restaurants and three bars — one will focus on beer, one on wine, and one on cocktails. There will be two stations for soft drinks, a demonstration kitchen with 27 seats, a retail space selling local products and clothing such as t-shirts, and a cooking academy. Included in the mix will be a breakfast counter where breakfast will be served all day.
Each of the restaurants in the Time Out Market will operate on one-year leases and will offer between eight and 10 dishes, which will generally be priced between $8 and $20. The Time Out Market has control over pricing, though there may be exceptions for special seasonal dishes.
A wide range of food options at the Time Out market will include vegetarian, Mexican, Thai, pizza and other offerings.
The space will aim to be zero waste with porcelain plates and bowls as well as reusable cutlery and glasses. Any aluminum used will be recycled.
The Time Out market will include impressive stainless-steel kitchens as well as glossy grey ceramic walls, concrete columns, and hardwood flooring. Uniformity will be key, with each restaurant’s branding being in the same black font.
What’s interesting is that the Time Out market won’t be accepting cash for purchases, except at its bars. Instead, credit and debit cards and mobile payments will the primary payment methods in the massive new space. Cash will also not be accepted in the mall’s new Decathlon store — the goal is to get customers moving quickly through both spaces. Mobile payments are expected to take hold in Canada quickly and retailers at Montreal Eaton Centre will be at the forefront.
The Time Out Market will have a seating capacity of 550 and will utilize elongated wooden tables, with a further 225 seats contained within an indoor terrace where alcohol will be permitted. The Time Out Market will be open until 9:00pm daily, while its bar space will be open until midnight.
Recently announced restaurants at the Time Out Market Montreal include: Burger T by Normand Laprise, Montreal Plaza by Charles-Antoine Crete and Cheryl Johnson, Hunting & Fishing Club by Claude Pelletier, Romados (roasted Portuguese chicken), Restaurant Moleskine (Neapolitan pizza), Red Tiger (Vietnamese), Il Miglio (fresh Italian pasta), and Hof Sucrée (dessert) by Hof Kelsten.
Landlord Ivanhoé Cambridge is increasing its focus on food and beverage offerings at its centres, which have seen a 12% increase in sales over the past year. The nearby Place Ville Marie mixed use complex, also managed by Ivanhoé Cambridge, will be getting a ‘gourmet biergarten’ that was reported on by Retail Insider last year.
What’s interesting, as well, is the former ninth floor restaurant in the former Eaton department store could re-open under a new service provider. Upgrades will be required for the space that closed about 20 years ago with the closure of Montreal’s massive Eaton flagship store, which was at one time the largest in the company in terms of square footage.
Decathlon: The two-level Decathlon store will span more than 38,000 square feet over two floors. As a comparison, the Brossard Decathlon location in suburban Montreal spans more than 60,000 square feet on one level. The Montreal Eaton Centre Decathlon location will feature two entry points. One will be on the first floor via a central corridor, and another through the Time Out Market itself. Decathlon will include window displays showcasing its wares on Maisonneuve Boulevard, though it will not include an entrance onto the street. For the first time, Ivanhoé Cambridge and Decathlon provided renderings of the entrance to the new store for Retail Insider and other media.
At Decathlon, as mentioned above, only debit and credit cards will be accepted, as well as mobile payments — sales associates will have mobile terminals to process payments so there will be no registers to line up at, other than several self-service registers at the front of the store. About 50 people will work at the new Montreal Eaton Centre Decathlon store and its e-comerce site is being launched this month.
Retail Insider will continue to report on the progression of construction at Montreal Eaton Centre, which is part of an incredible transformation of downtown Montreal. Other adjacent shopping centres, many connected via underground walkways, are also seeing updates. La Maison Simons, for example, recently opened a standalone home store in the shopping complex below its Ste-Catherine Street storefront.
The Hudson’s Bay department store, located east of the Montreal Eaton Centre, recently saw upgrades to its main level beauty hall that includes more prestige brands in a beautiful space. Sources say that at least the ground floor of that Bay flagship will be renovated over the next year, though plans for a proposed 200,000 square foot Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store at the back end of the 650,000 square foot building has been shelved, according to reports. As well, the overhaul to the highly anticipated Holt Renfrew Ogilvy at 1307 Ste-Catherine Street West is ongoing and is expected to be completed by the spring of 2020, introducing some of the world’s leading luxury brands to the market in a collection of leased shop-in-store concessions.