Karen Millen to open Canadian stores. First location: Montreal's Rockland Centre

[Image Source]

Upscale British-based fashion house Karen Millen will open its first Canadian store at Montreal's Centre Rockland

For those unfamiliar, Karen Millen is an upscale womenswear retailer with over 350 stores and concessions throughout the world. In North America it has over 20 stores and concessions. It is also featured within several Bloomingdale's stores. 

Montreal's Karen Millen store is also hiring a store manager. If you are interested, we're including a link to its job posting

Thank you to source David Goldman. 

Ogilvy & Holt Renfrew merger in Montreal: a winning strategy?

 Combined store rendering: City of Montreal

By Mounia Ayoub 




Holt Renfrew

 stores will merge, 

forming one of the largest department stores in North America

, slated for completion in late 2017. The Holt Renfrew store on Sherbrooke Street will close and the Ogilvy store located on the trendy Sainte-Catherine Street West will be revamped and expanded northward on the site of the former 

Hotel de La Montagne

. It is the only Ogilvy/Holt Renfrew-merged store planned so far in Canada.

Ogilvy and Holt Renfrew are heritage brands founded in Quebec: Ogilvy in 1866 in Montreal, and Holt Renfrew in 1837 in Quebec City. Both now belong to 

Selfridges Group Ltd

., owned by the 

Weston family

 of Toronto which also controls 


 in the United Kingdom, 

Brown Thomas

 in Ireland and 

de Bijenkorf

 in the Netherlands (and grocer 

Loblaw Companies Ltd

. in Canada). The new department store will take the (long) name in French of 

Ogilvy, membre de la collection Holt Renfrew & Co


The purpose of this merger is to boost sales in Montreal by combining and developing the strengths of both stores. As the Vice-President of Holt Renfrew, Joanne Nemeroff, pointed out 

in an interview with 

La Presse Affaires

, the decision to merge both stores was made after a market study (confidential sources) showed that the Holt Renfrew customers wanted a larger range of products with a new assortment of brands while the Ogilvy customers were asking for a new dynamism. Moreover, according to Mark Derbyshire, President of Holt Renfrew, the strategy of targeting the customers of both stores the same way remains consistent since these customers have a lot in common. “We think we can offer them something bigger in one place instead of two,” as M. Derbyshire stated in his interview with 

La Presse Affaires.

Current Holt Renfrew store on Sherbrooke St. W. [

Image Source


Holt Renfrew opened its store in Montreal on Sherbrooke Street in 1937; historically it has been the go-to place for fashion addicts in search of unique contemporary designer clothing and modern luxury accessories. On the other hand, Ogilvy has the reputation of offering a range of much more classic brands. We will see in the future if the regular Holt Renfrew customers will accept to change their shopping habits and leave the luxury Sherbrooke Street district to make their purchases on the less fashionable Sainte-Catherine Street.

What is more, this merger of the two stores in Montreal should allow the group to arm itself for the coming luxury battle with the arrival of its next big competitor, the New York-based luxury department store 

Saks Fifth Avenue

. Saks was acquired by the Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC) last November and 

7 or 8 Saks Fifth Avenue stores are likely to open

 in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and possibly Calgary in the next few years. Two Saks Fifth Avenue stores should open in Montreal, one free-standing downtown store and one suburban store, 

possibly at Le Carrefour Laval


Saks will be the main competitor of Holt Renfrew in Canada as it has the same luxury positioning, carrying the same prestigious brands, from 






, including the same trendy designer labels such as 

Christian Louboutin

Manolo Blahnik

Jimmy Choo

 etc. Differentiation will therefore be difficult for both companies in Canada. We have reason to believe this Ogilvy/Holt Renfrew merger in Montreal is likely to facilitate the differentiation process as this new luxury megastore will add the classic, respected and well-established image of Ogilvy to the avant-garde spirit of Holt Renfrew.

Fortunately for the Selfridges Group, Seattle-based Nordstrom does not plan to open any high-end department store in Montreal so far. 

It will open only in Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto

taking over the mall's Sears stores about to close in Canada

 (the first Nordstrom store in Canada should be opened in Calgary in 2014).


Image Source


Besides the Saks issue, the other question raised with this Ogilvy/Holt Renfrew merger in Montreal is whether or not the market can support such a luxury megastore given Quebec's market. With 220,000 square feet, the new Ogilvy/Holt Renfrew department store will be the largest luxury department store in Canada. Yet, according to 


, only 4.1% of the population in Montreal had an income of $200,000 or more, compared to more than the double in Toronto, with 8.4%, and 5.6% in Vancouver in 2013. Moreover, 16.8% of the households earning more than $200,000 a year in Canada were living in Montreal against 44.8% in Toronto and 13.3% in Vancouver in 2013. Therefore one can wonder whether or not there is enough demand for luxury products in the area to warrant such a huge department store in Montreal.

The point is many Montrealers are used to shopping outside the city, whether it be in Toronto, the rest of Canada, or the United States. According to Alecsandra Hancas, Fashion Industry Analyst at the

NPD Group

, cross-border shopping is a serious issue in Canada overall since it represented an estimated $1-billion loss for Canadian retailers in the year to May 2013


. Thus Ogilvy and Holt Renfrew’s executives expect that upscaling the luxury offering in Montreal will dissuade these customers from doing cross-border shopping and encourage them to make their purchases in this new Ogilvy/Holt Renfrew megastore instead.

In conclusion, this new Ogilvy/Holt Renfrew megastore will definitely change the luxury landscape in Montreal, and will probably contribute to the retention of the local customers who used to shop outside Montreal. The arrival of Saks in the next years will also upscale the retail market in the biggest city of the province of Quebec. In the meantime, this increasingly fierce competition in the luxury market will affect not only the department stores and their customers but also the suppliers, which will have to figure out how to distribute their collections without compromising past allegiances with Holt Renfrew or Ogilvy and without cannibalizing their current sales.

Mounia Ayoub is a luxury retail, fashion lover and a contributing editor for Retail Insider. Born in Paris and raised in Marseille, in the South of France, she is strongly attached to her Mediterranean roots. With a business background, she has worked for Marc Jacobs in Paris and contributed to consulting services at the French Trade Commission in Toronto for French luxury and cosmetic companies expanding their activities in North America. After living in Japan, New York City, Toronto and Paris, she has found in the multicultural city of Toronto the perfect pied-à-terre for now. 



Ogilvy website



Holt Renfrew website


La Maison Simons could open at Montreal's Fairview Pointe-Claire

Sources tell us that

La Maison Simons

could open at Montreal's

Fairview Pointe-Claire

 Shopping Centre. If talks are successful, it would occupy part of the 181,795 square foot


store that currently anchors the mall's eastern portion. 

The 1 million square foot Fairview Pointe-Claire Shopping Centre is owned and operated by landlord

Cadillac Fairview

. It features almost 175 stores and is one of Montreal's most productive malls with yearly sales per square foot of $617.

Simons is expanding across Canada and plans to open new stores in

West Vancouver





Quebec and


, Ontario. It may also open a

store in suburban Calgary

. We'll keep you updated on Simons' Canadian expansion including this possible new suburban Montreal store.





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[Image Source]

At 220,000 square feet, Montreal's combined Ogilvy/Holt Renfrew store will be one of the largest luxury department stores in North America when completed. From our calculations, it will be the 7th-largest luxury store in North America, surpassed only by stores in New York City, San Francisco, Beverly Hills and Houston. Toronto's flagship Saks Fifth Avenue is expected to be larger than Ogilvy/Holt's as well, though we are currently unaware of its exact size. 

In our analysis, we only included American retailers Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus/Bergdorf Goodman and Barney's New York. We've excluded retailers such as Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's, since both sell a considerable amount of mid-range merchandise that likely won't be carried in the new, upscaled Ogilvy.

The following American luxury department stores are larger than the new Ogilvy/Holt Renfrew's 220,000 square feet:

New York City:
Saks Fifth Avenue: 646,000 square feet
Bergdorf Goodman (both men's and women's stores): 316,000 square feet
Barney's New York: ~230,000 square feet

San Francisco:
Neiman Marcus, Union Square: 252,000 square feet

Beverly Hills, California:
Saks Fifth Avenue (combined men's and women's stores): ~275,000 square feet

Houston Texas:
Neiman Marcus, Houston Galleria: 224,000 square feet

Toronto's flagship Saks Fifth Avenue store is expected to be in the 300,000 square foot range. If so, it could become North America's second- or third-largest luxury store. We'll report more when we get details on the size of Saks' proposed Bloor Street store.


[Ogilvy website]

[Holt Renfrew website]


[Image Source]

French fashion designer Catherine Malandrino will open a second Montreal-area store to be followed by a Toronto store. Last month we reported that Malandrino's first Canadian store opened in Montreal.

The Montreal store was Malandrino's 11th store location worldwide, meaning Canada will be a significant market for the brand once three or more stores have opened in the country.

We'll update you when we learn exactly when and where Catherine Malandrino's new Canadian stores will open.

Source: ACT7, Urban Toronto, who directed us to this article on Women's Wear Daily.


[Catherine Malandrino website]


[Image Source]
According to the November 27th edition of the The Globe & Mail Report on Business, Saks Fifth Avenue CEO Richard Baker says that he'll open up to eight Saks Fifth Avenue stores in Canada, including suburban locations in or near Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Based on Baker's comments, we're providing an updated list of which suburban Canadian malls are likely to receive a new Saks store. We also have an update on potential downtown stores: they might not go into current flagship Hudson's Bay store space, after all. 

The Globe & Mail article says the following about Richard Baker:

"He’s also weighing setting up Saks in Calgary, and in suburban Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver—up to seven or eight Canadian Saks in all, he says. He’s already negotiating for space in major suburban malls such as Toronto’s Sherway Gardens and Yorkdale."

Given the above statement, we have an update on what suburban locations we think Saks Fifth Avenue could open in Canada. We'll specifically address potential suburban locations. 

The first two locations we'll discuss are the obvious ones which were mentioned in the article: Toronto's Sherway Gardens and Yorkdale Mall. The second two might be less obvious. We speculate that the Vancouver store location could be at Oakridge Shopping Centre, and that the suburban Montreal store could be at Le Carrefour Laval.

Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto: Richard Baker may be negotiating for the entire 190,000 square foot Sears store location that was recently sold back to landlord Oxford Properties. The store enjoys a prime location next to an expanded flagship Harry Rosen store and is between an upscaled Hudson's Bay and a substantially expanded and modernized Holt Renfrew store. We had initially expected a Yorkdale Saks to be established within part of Hudson's Bay's 303,000 square foot store, though now it appears Richard Baker is willing to spend substantially more money on Canadian Saks stores than we had originally anticipated. 

Saks could have some competition for the Yorkdale Sears space, however. La Maison Simons has expressed interest in leasing part of the space. Furthermore, the mall's landlord has also stated that it may wish to demolish Sears in order to expand Yorkdale Mall into that space as well as the adjacent parking space. 

Nordstrom will join Yorkdale in 2016 with a new 188,000 square foot store, in part of a 298,000 square foot mall expansion. 

Sherway Gardens, Toronto: Saks could occupy part (or even all) of Sherway's 225,000 Sears store location which Sears recently sold back to landlord Cadillac Fairview. We again have changed our thoughts on where Saks could go. We were expecting Saks to open a shop-in-store within suburban Hudson's Bay stores, but after last week's article in the Globe & Mail, it appears that Richard Baker is willing to spend money to build large free-standing Saks stores. We think 225,000 square feet might be a bit too large for Saks at Sherway, however - only two American Saks locations are larger than 225,000 square feet, and both are 'urban' flagships, being the Manhattan (646,000 square feet) and Beverly Hills (275,000 square feet) stores. 

Sherway Gardens is a sufficiently upscale mall for Saks, and it features other upscale tenants including Holt Renfrew (which may stay in the mall, despite its building a 120,000 square foot store in nearby Mississauga) and, in 2016, a 138,000 square foot Nordstrom store. 

Oakridge Shopping Centre, Vancouver: Saks had already been inquiring into space at Oakridge Centre, and Oakridge's landlord is looking to fill a proposed 155,000 square foot anchor store with an upscale American department store. Though it wouldn't open until some time around the year 2020, an expanded Oakridge Centre could become home to a Saks store. 

Carrefour Laval, suburban Montreal: Given the possibility that Saks could open in suburban Montreal, our best guess for its location would be Carrefour Laval. The mall enjoys an affluent shopping base and its landlord, Cadillac Fairview, is keen to make improvements to the mall. We're not sure if Saks could take over the mall's current Sears store, or if it would want to - the mall's Sears store is a bit removed from other upscale retailers and is itself neighboured by some more mid-market stores. We're not aware of mall restrictive covenants though it's possible that a purpose-built Saks could arrive in the mall within a few years.

Besides these four suburban store locations, we expect at least three downtown Canadian Saks stores: one in Toronto (replacing Hudson's Bay at Yonge and Bloor) as well as in Vancouver and Montreal. Sources have informed us that Saks management may want to create free-standing downtown stores rather than locate within flagship Hudson's Bay stores in Downtown Vancouver and Montreal. An eighth possible Saks store could be somewhere in Calgary. 


Photo: Catherine Malandrino

Canada's first Catherine Malandrino store has opened at 1472 Sherbrooke St. West in Montreal. It is one of 11 Malandrino flagships worldwide. Marketing materials indicate that the store is about 4,300 square feet.

For those unfamiliar, Catherine Malandrino is a contemporary-priced womenswear designer headquartered in Paris. Malandrino's fashion lines can be found in better retailers throughout the world, including several Canadian Hudson's Bay stores.

1472 Sherbrooke St W prior to Malandrino [Image Source]

According to marketing materials, the retail space comprises of 2,156 square feet on its ground floor and 2,123 square feet on its second level. The asking rent for the store's ground floor was $57/square foot/year, while its second floor was asking $43/square foot/year.

The Montreal Malandrino store is located west of Holt Renfrew's current Montreal store. The future of the Sherbrooke St. West shopping strip is in question, now that Holt's will close its Sherbrooke Street store to amalgamate operations in an expanded Ogilvy retail building.

We'll keep you updated as to if more Catherine Malandrino stores will open in Canada.

[Catherine Malandrino website]


Rendering: City of Montreal

Canada's largest Holt Renfrew store will eventually be located in Montreal, though it will go by a different name. Holt Renfrew will merge with Montreal's Ogilvy as it spends $60 million to create a 220,000 square foot flagship in an expanded Ogilvy premises on Ste Catherine Street West. The current Holt Renfrew store on Sherbrooke Street West will then close. Construction on the new store begins in the fall of 2014 and is expected to be completed some time in 2017.

The new store will be called Ogilvy, part of the Holt Renfrew & Co. collection.  The name is rather long and we think many shoppers will refer to the combined retailer simply as 'Ogilvy', especially as it will be located within the current Ogilvy building. The current 160,000 square foot Ogilvy building will be expanded by about 60,000 square feet northward to create the new 220,000 square foot store.

Incredibly, insiders (including sources at Womens Wear Daily) speculate that sales in the new Ogilvy/Holt's store could be as high as $250 million annually. If so, these could be the highest department store sales in Canada, surpassing those of Hudson's Bay's Toronto flagship. 

The strategy to combine the two retailers is an interesting one. Montreal will technically lose its dedicated Holt Renfrew store on Sherbrooke Street West. However, it will gain an even larger luxury department store that can compete head-to-head with Saks Fifth Avenue, which will open within Hudson's Bay's Ste Catherine Street West store in downtown Montreal. When finished, Saks will be a mere 800 metres east of the new Ogilvy/Holt's. 

We expect that the new retailer will be similar to the company's Selfridge's store in London, though possibly more focussed on the luxury consumer. Selfridge's is considered to be one of the world's most innovative retailers, and it offers a wide variety of merchandise and pricing. We've been doing some research and giving it some thought, and we think that the new Ogilvy by Holt's will likely include the following improvements:

New 'luxury hall' for designer boutiques: We expect the new retailer to feature multiple luxury designer boutiques in a sort of "luxury street" similar to what Selfridge's group has created for its London store as well as for its de Bijenkorf store in Amsterdam. Luxury boutiques could include Hermès, Dior, Chanel, Gucci, Fendi, Miu Miu, Mulberry and others. Apart from a few luxury boutiques on Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal generally lacks luxury 'high streets' like Toronto's Bloor Street or Vancouver's Burrard/Alberni Streets. We expect Ogilvy/Holt's to capitalize on its large ground-floor space by featuring multiple luxury boutiques to compliment existing Ogilvy retailers such as Louis Vuitton. 

Massive Shoe Hall: We expect Holt Renfrew will create a massive women's shoe hall that will include separate boutiques for the likes of Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, and others. We'd expect this to be similar to the recently opened shoe hall at Holt Renfrew's Yorkdale store in Toronto, though on an even grander scale.

A substantial, luxurious men's store: We expect to see a large and luxurious men's store within the new Ogilvy/Holt's, offering such amenities as shaving services, shoe shines, personal shopping and a relaxation lounge, among others. We're not sure where it would go, yet, though we think it will be over 30,000 square feet as it attempts to compete with rivals Harry Rosen, L'Uomo and Saks Fifth Avenue.

A top-notch women's designer floor: We expect that the women's luxury clothing offerings at Holt's will be expanded and that there will be larger boutiques for Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Akris, Giorgio Armani and others. We also think Holt's will bring its couture salon concept over from its current store.

More fine jewellery: We think an expanded jewellery selection will build on Ogilvy's current H. Stern and Christofle boutiques to include many of the world's finest jewellers, such as Graff, De Beers, Bulgari and others.

Expanded cosmetics as well as beauty services: We expect cosmetics operations between the two retailers to be merged and improved upon with the increased square footage of Ogilvy/Holt's. Holt Renfrew already features a broad selection of cosmetics vendors, and more space will allow for a wider assortment of brand offerings. We'd expect the new store to also feature a spa, hair salon, and other beauty services carried at other Holt's flagships.

Restaurants: We expect to see at least one restaurant offering, if not several, in the new store. Restaurants aren't our specialty so we'll leave it at that.

Eliminated furniture department: Currently, Ogilvy carries furniture items on an upper floor. We think that continuing to carry furniture would be incompatible with Holt Renfrew's current merchandising strategy and that furniture will therefore be eliminated with the new store's opening.

More details of the combined Ogilvy/Holt Renfrew store will come available in the coming weeks. Keep reading for updates.

[Ogilvy website]

[Holt Renfrew website]


BREAKING: We'll follow up on this announcement with an analysis article in a few hours. 



Nov. 19, 2013

/CNW Telbec/ -


, Renfrew & Co., Limited today unveiled grand plans to expand and transform the St. Catherine's Street Ogilvy location into a unique and exciting luxury retail destination branded

: Ogilvy, part of the Holt Renfrew & Co. collection

. Spanning 220,000 square feet, the new specialty store will expand to include an adjacent site and become the largest in the Holt Renfrew network, offering innovative new retail concepts and


richest assortment of luxury fashion and beauty brands. Following a

$60 million

investment, the new store is slated for completion in late 2017.

"This is another exciting step forward in Holt Renfrew's dynamic growth plan," said Holt Renfrew President 

Mark Derbyshire

. "The 


 market presents a unique opportunity to leverage two storied brands. Inspired by the best of both Holt Renfrew and Ogilvy, and based on extensive customer research, we have developed a grand vision with bold new concepts that celebrate 


 rich fashion heritage and sophisticated shoppers."

"I am also pleased to note at this time the appointment of 

Joanne Nemeroff

 as Senior Vice President, Ogilvy, part of the Holt Renfrew & Co. Collection, based in 


, to lead our team and this exciting development," Derbyshire said. "Joanne is a seasoned retail executive with a great wealth of expertise and relationships in the 



"We're thrilled to offer this exciting fashion retail concept for 


, one that is sure to cement this city's standing as an international luxury shopping destination," said 

Joanne Nemeroff

. "With an expanded offering at a high-traffic location, the energized new store that will emerge in 2017 will provide customers with an unparalleled shopping experience. It's about getting the best of both worlds and more, all under one roof and one banner."

Grand, one-store vision to become a reality in 2017: 

Ogilvy, part of the Holt Renfrew & Co. collection

The construction phase for the future store is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2014 and be completed later in 2017. The store will remain open throughout this period to serve customers, as will the current 



 store in



Familiar elements of the distinctive and stylish Ogilvy building will be celebrated in the new store design, including its magnificent façade, complemented with an expansion on the site of the former Hotel de la Montagne. The store will also continue to offer a mix of lease partners.

The Holt Renfrew store on Sherbrooke Street will also remain open to welcome customers throughout this period, with exciting upgrades to enhance the shopping experience, including the recent launch of a new Dior shop, which offers the richest assortment of its kind in 


, and plans for a new Prada shop. Plans for the Sherbrooke Street property post 2017 will be confirmed at a future date, and are expected to include retail offerings to benefit the local community.

"We are very excited about the development of this unique concept for the 


 market. For now it remains business as usual for the current Ogilvy and Holt Renfrew stores. They will continue to provide the very best in beauty and luxury fashion as well as the quality service our customers have come to expect and enjoy," concluded Nemeroff.

About Holt Renfrew

Celebrating a 175-year heritage, Holt Renfrew is recognized worldwide for an inspired shopping experience. Once a purveyor of fashion to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Holt Renfrew began in 1837 as a modest hat shop in 


. Over the years the brand developed and expanded across 


. In the 1930's Holt Renfrew began exclusive accounts with some of the best designers in 


 and in 1947 hosted Monsieur Christian Dior when he launched his "New Look." After many years of foreign ownership Holt Renfrew was bought in 1986 by W. Galen and the Hon.

Hilary M. Weston

. Under their ownership Holt Renfrew has become 


 destination for luxury retail. Holt


 has 2,300 employees with nine stores across the country in 






Quebec City





Bloor Street

, Sherway Gardens and Yorkdale). In early 2013, Holt Renfrew launched hr2, 


 first premium off-price concept, offering leading brands and on-trend styles at irresistible prices. Visit us at 






Ogilvy, part of the Holt Renfrew & Co. collection

, are part of Selfridges Group Limited. With extensive know-how and experience in operating luxury fashion retail stores, the Selfridges Group owns and operates leading heritage banners in key markets around the world, including Brown Thomas in 


; de Bijenkorf in 

The Netherlands

; Holt Renfrew and 

Ogilvy, part of the Holt Renfrew & Co. collection



, and Selfridges in the

United Kingdom

. Selfridges Group Limited is a family owned business, 

W. Galen Weston

 is Chairman.

SOURCE Holt Renfrew


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German luxury retailer Porsche Design will open stores across Canada according to sources, and its list of desired cities includes Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver and possibly Edmonton. It is also expected to open at least one more Toronto-area store. The company is testing the market, having already opened a pop-up shop at Toronto's Sherway Gardens as well as a temporary store location in Vancouver. We'll briefly describe Porsche Design's potential plans in several cities:


A source at Porsche Design tells us that the company is looking to open in Calgary's Chinook Centre, ideally close to the mall's new Nordstrom store which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014. The source wasn't sure if Porsche Design has already signed a lease in the mall.


Porsche Design's Sherway Gardens pop-up store, which opened a few days ago, will remain open for only about two months. A company representative says that Porsche Design is hoping to secure a permanent retail presence in the mall by the end of 2014. 

Another possible Toronto store location could be at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre. A source tells us that Porsche Design might look to take over the 1,365 square foot retail space currently occupied by ICON Shoes, as ICON's lease expires in 2014. The space is located across from the mall's expanding Holt Renfrew store and is within close proximity to upscale stores such as MulberryTiffany & Co.CartierSalvator FerragamoDavid Yurman and others.

Porsche Design pop-up shop at Toronto's Sherway Gardens. Photo: Sherway Gardens

Porsche Design pop-up shop at Toronto's Sherway Gardens. Photo: Sherway Gardens


An Edmonton store is a possibility for Porsche Design, and we were informed that West Edmonton Mall would be the most likely location. Our source wasn't able to provide any further information as to when this could happen or its location within the mall. 

Ottawa and Montreal:

Ottawa and Montreal have both been mentioned as possible locations for Porsche Design stores, though we have few details besides Ottawa's Rideau Centre being the likely candidate for an Ottawa store location.

More on Porsche Design in Canada: 

Porsche Design already has two Canadian store locations: one on Toronto's Bloor Street and another which opened last week in Downtown Vancouver. Further plans to expand show Porsche Design's confidence in Canada's luxury retail market.

It appears that Porsche Design's presence in Canada could become substantially greater, per capita, than that in the United States. Porsche Design only has 11 American store locations and one outlet location. Within a couple of years, Canada could have as many as 8 Porsche Design stores (though we suspect that number will end up being more like 5).

We'll continue to keep you updated on Porsche Design's Canada-wide store expansion.


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[Image Source]

Desigual has opened its first Canadian retail location at Downtown Montreal's Les Cours Mont Royal. The 2,400 square foot store is impressive and features a massive display of about 7,000 glass bottles suspended from the ceiling. We've been told it took about four days to complete the ceiling installation.

For those unfamiliar, Desigual is a Spanish-based, moderately-priced clothing brand noted for its patchwork designs, intense prints and colourful garments. It was founded in 1984 and sells clothing and accessories for men, women and children. The company achieved 60% annual sales growth between 2002 and 2009 and is still growing very rapidly.

The Montreal store is a franchise, though the store's merchandising and public relations are handled by the Desigual corporation. According to the business publication Les Affaires, Desigual could open stores in Toronto and possibly in other Canadian cities. A source informs us that the Montreal store is already showing stellar sales and if this trend continues, we can expect other Canadian Desigual stores.

Les Cours Mont Royal is a upscale destination shopping centre in Downtown Montreal. It was created in 1988, from a converted former hotel to retail space. It includes Montreal's only Club Monaco and DKNY stores, and some considerably upscale retailers such as designer women's store Ursula B. and a flagship Harry Rosen menswear store.

We'll keep you updated if Desigual opens any more Canadian store locations.

Thank you to bAuHaUs of Urban Toronto for directing us to this article by Les Affaires (in French) as well as providing the image above.

[Les Cours Mont Royal website]

[Desigual website]


[Image Source]

Montreal-based Maison Birks is expected to renovate its Montreal flagship store within the next three to four years, according to the company's president and CEO Jean-Christope Bedos. The Montreal flagship is one of North America's largest jewellery stores.

The Montreal flagship, located on Phillips Square, has been occupied by the jeweller since 1894. The building comprises of 19,785 square feet of retail space and 58,444 square feet of corporate office space above, according to the company. The handsome flagship store is located along a popular strip of Ste Catherine Street West, alongside retailers such as Hudson's Bay, La Maison Simons and Les Ailes de la Mode (which will close in a few months).

Interior of Montreal's Maison Birks [Image Source]

Currently, Canada's largest jewellery store is Maison Birks in Downtown Vancouver. It boasts slightly more retail space than the Montreal location, at 20,221 square feet. The third largest is the Maison Birks store at Toronto's Manulife Centre, measuring in at 15,620 square feet over two levels.

Maison Birks recently re-branded and has plans to open stores internationally. Its first Asian store opens next year in Beijing, China. It's also opening mono-brand Canadian stores selling only Birks-branded products.

Mr. Bedos revealed the Montreal store renovation plans during a talk at The Canadian Club in Montreal. It was subsequently reported by La Presse in this article (in French).

[Maison Birks website]


[Image Source]

Downtown Montreal's Les Ailes de la Mode department store will reportedly close in February 2014. At one time, Les Ailes was described as Canada's answer to Nordstrom. After a decline, Les Ailes is now essentially a large discount store. We expect that, once closed, the adjacent namesake mall Complexe Les Ailes will also change its name. 

Downtown Montreal's Les Ailes opened in August 2002. It was 223,000 square feet and occupied the lower four floors of a shuttered one-million square foot Eaton's department store. Plenty of upscale designer labels were featured in-store. Les Ailes included a karaoke bar, art gallery, pottery-making studio, spa, a vodka bar, three restaurants and even featured an in-store piano player. The store employed over 1,000 staff and became known for its customer service. When it opened, downtown Montreal's Les Ailes was expected to become the flagship location of a national (and possibly international) department store chain that would have been the Canadian equivalent to popular American retailer Nordstrom.

The company experienced financial problems as a result of the costs associated with opening this store, as well as an unsuccessful location in suburban Ottawa. In early 2004, the size of the downtown Montreal Les Ailes was reduced to about 77,000 square feet over two floors. The rest of the store's space was configured into Complexe Les Ailes, the adjacent shopping centre. 

The store's owner, San Francisco Group, went bankrupt in 2003. After emerging from bankruptcy a year later, the Group was renamed Groupe Les Ailes de la Mode. The company was sold to Fairweather INC Group in 2005, which proceeded to further run the company into the ground. 

Complexe Les Ailes is owned by landlord Ivanhoe Cambridge. We're not sure what will happen with the department store space once it vacates, and we'll update you when we learn of what will happen to Complexe Les Ailes. We suspect that once the mall's anchor Les Ailes de la Mode leaves, the mall's name will change as well. 

A partial source for this article is this article, in French, by Marie-Eve Fournier of La Presse

[Les Ailes de la Mode website (currently "under construction")]


Colliers International has released its latest report on retail space rents, including those on Canada's most expensive shopping streets. Interestingly, Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre charges rents higher than Canada's most expensive street, Bloor Street West, in Toronto.

According to the study, these numbers are average quoted asking rental rates, and we're using Canadian dollars. Canada's highest retail rents, as measured per square foot, are as follows:

1) Bloor Street West, Toronto: $315/sq ft

2) Robson Street, Vancouver: $200/sq ft

2) (tie) Ste Catherine Street, Montreal: $200/sq ft

4) Alberni Street, Vancouver: $150/sq ft

5) Granville Street, Vancouver: $125/sq ft

6) Spring Garden Road, Halifax: $65/sq ft

6) (tie) 17th Avenue S.W., Calgary: $65/sq ft

8) 4th St. S.W., Calgary: $60/sq ft

9) Greene Avenue, Montreal: $60/sq ft

10) Rue de la Montagne, Montreal: $60/sq ft. 

The following are a few comments about several of these streets, followed by comments on Yorkdale: 

Bloor Street West, Toronto:

Bloor Street's high rents are concentrated in a few short blocks between Yonge Street and Avenue Road. Retailers include some of Canada's most prestigious stores (Chanel, Gucci, Prada, MulberryDolce & GabbanaTiffany & Co.) as well as some lower-priced stores including the likes of Zara, Winners, Roots and, soon, J. Crew and Brooks Brothers. Bloor Street is considered to be Canada's most prestigious high street and its high rents reflect this. Interestingly, Bloor Street's rents are only marginally lower than those of Chicago's Michigan Avenue, assessed at $328/sq ft. Bloor Street has been Canada's most expensive street for years, and rents only went up 1.6% from last year. 

Robson Street, Vancouver:

Vancouver's Robson Street has more mid-range retailers, and its relatively high rents reflect the volume of sales on the street. Asking rents of $200 are up substantially from last year, when asking rents were only in the $150 range. New retailers continue to open stores on Robson including, recently, Browns ShoesVictoria's Secret and J. Crew. Shoe retailer Steve Madden just opened a Robson Street store, and retailers New Balance, HMV, Shoppers Drug Mart Beauty Boutique and a popular car retailer (we'll discuss this in a later article) have recently secured space on Robson Street. The most expensive Robson Street blocks are the 1000 and 1100 blocks, between Burrard and Bute Streets. 

Ste Catherine Street, Montreal:

This street has been relatively successful in featuring mostly mid-priced retailers. It also includes several larger stores including La Maison Simons and Les Ailes de la Mode. The most popular retail portion of Ste Catherine Street is anchored by Ogilvy to the West and Hudson's Bay/La Baie to the East. Saks Fifth Avenue will likely share Hudson's Bay's retail space within the next 24 months

Alberni Street, Vancouver:

Vancouver's Alberni Street saw a substantial increase in rents (43%) over last year. This is mainly due to the asking rents at The Carlyle, a luxury retail redevelopment on Alberni Street's 1000 block. We recently wrote an article discussing the increase in luxury shops on Alberni Street, which will soon see the addition of De BeersTory Burch and Tumi. More luxury retailers are on the way, with lease negotiations ongoing

Spring Garden Road, Halifax:

This street is home to popular department store Mills, which recently "re-opened" after moving to a new store location. The rest of Spring Garden Road includes some popular and some moderately upscale retailers, contributing to Halifax's most popular shopping street. Surprisingly, rents on this street are down 7.1% from last year. 

17th Avenue S.W., Calgary:

Calgary's retail is overwhelmingly dominated by shopping malls. Despite this, 17th Avenue S.W. continues to come out on top as the city's most popular retail high street (and at $60/sq ft, ties for most costly). Substantial changes are on the way for the street, including a renovation and expansion of the Mount Royal Village complex (we'll do an article on this in the next while). Rents are up 8.3% over last year. 

Retail Insider's Karim Rashwan directed us to comments made by Yorkdale Mall's General Manager Anthony Casalanguida, who stated that rents in his mall are now in the $350-375/square foot range. These are higher than any of the streets described above. Yorkdale is on track to becoming North America's highest-selling mall , with sales expected to be $2 billion by 2018. Yorkdale has also opened several new luxury stores including MulberryFerragamo, and (soon) a renovated and expanded Holt Renfrew storeAnother expansion of the mall breaks ground soon, including a 188,000 square foot Nordstrom store. Yet another expansion is expected where Sears is currently located, and this could possibly include a La Maison Simons store.

The following is a link to the entire Colliers International 2013 Retail Report.


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Photo: David Goldmann

Alton Gray has opened a 3,660 square foot store at Le Carrefour Laval in suburban Montreal. The store carries mid-priced men's and women's ready-to-wear and accessories. It is owned and operated by the Sonoma Group.

Alton Gray is located next to Zara Home, which recently opened in the mall. Other new upscale retailers are opening in the mall, including a recently opened Harry Rosen store. The mall is also home to Canada's second MontBlanc boutique, up the hall from Alton Gray and across from Hudson's Bay.

Le Carrefour Laval is one of the most productive malls in Canada, with sales in excess of $770/square foot according to landlord Cadillac Fairview.

Thank you to Retail Insider David Goldmann for this retail tip.

[Le Carrefour Laval website]

[Alton Gray website]