|Combined store rendering: City of Montreal|
Montreal's Ogilvy and 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 Selfridges 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.
|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.
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 EnvironicsAnalytics, 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 20131. 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.
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.
- Montreal's Ogilvy and Holt Renfrew stores to merge. Sherbrooke St Holt Renfrew to close
- Combined Ogilvy/Holt Renfrew to be one of North America's largest luxury department stores
- Analysis: 220,000 sq ft combined Ogilvy/Holt Renfrew in Montreal: to be Canada's largest 'Holt's'
- Montreal's Ogilvy project is delayed
- Montreal's Ogilvy to become Holt Renfrew?
[Holt Renfrew website]