Marina Strauss [Image Source]
We want to give recognition to the news reporter who wrote our favourite Canadian retail article of 2013. The Globe & Mail's Marina Srauss composed a lengthy piece on the Hudson's Bay Company CEO Richard Baker's purchase of Saks Fifth Avenue. The article was published in the November 27th Report on Business Magazine. The writing, research and content is exemplary and worthy of recognition.

Needless to say, we think the article deserves a look and we encourage you to click here to see it. For those interested in the future of Saks Fifth Avenue in Canada and how the deal came about, the article is captivating. Ms. Strauss starts by revealing that Richard Baker intends on opening the world's second-largest Saks Fifth Avenue store at Toronto's Yonge and Bloor Street intersection, replacing a current Hudson's Bay store.

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Ms. Strauss went above and beyond, travelling with Mr. Baker on his private jet to New York to learn more about the deal as well as Baker's work and family life. Details of a failed Bloomingdale's deal are provided before it is revealed that Baker really wanted to buy Saks Fifth Avenue all along.

Ms. Strauss further interviewed the 'competition' including Holt Renfrew President Mark Derbyshire. She also interviewed various suppliers and retail experts. She then provided excellent analysis of her research, outlining increased competition in Canadian luxury retail now that Saks and Nordstrom will open here. 

Thank you, Marina Strauss, for this and other excellent retail reporting over the past year. We look forward to more outstanding journalism in 2014.

[Marina Strauss on Twitter]

[Meet the man trying to shake up luxury retail in Canada: Globe & Mail Report on Business Magazine, November 27th 2013, by Marina Strauss]


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Nordstrom could open at the Toronto Eaton Centre, now that Sears Canada has a new CEO who's reportedly willing to sell store assets

On Friday October 18th, Sears CEO Douglas Campbell told the Globe & Mail that he would consider selling Sears' Toronto Eaton Centre location for the right price. This could open the way not only for Nordstrom, but  also for redevelopment that could include multiple retailers as well as possibly a second anchor store such as La Maison Simons

The Toronto Eaton Centre Sears store is about 816,000 square feet over several floors. Though it's unlikely that the top levels would be used for retail, a substantial amount of space could become available that could create an exciting cluster of new retailers in the mall, including possibly Nordstrom's Canadian flagship store.

In the past 14 months, Sears Canada has sold off several of its leases to mall landlords. In the summer of 2012, Sears sold its leases in Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa, paving the way for Nordstrom's first Canadian stores. Sears subsequently sold two leases in the Toronto area, resulting in speculation that La Maison Simons may move in. Sears also announced a $1 billion project to redevelop its Burnaby BC real estate at Metrotown. 

Our source for this article is this article by Marina Strauss of the Globe & Mail.

[Toronto Eaton Centre website]

[Sears Canada website]

[Nordstrom website]


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Toronto's proposed Oxford Place mega-project has been put on hold. It would have included a substantial retail mall that could have rivalled the Toronto Eaton Centre in size. Oxford Properties' CEO made this revelation to The Globe & Mail in this article

One of the reasons the project was put on hiatus is because the City of Toronto voted against allowing a casino on the premises. A casino was considered to be key for Oxford Place's success. 

We first reported on Oxford Place in October, 2012. The ~1 million-square foot retail project could have housed multiple anchor tenants as well as a massive shopping centre. We subsequently provided renderings of the project, raising optimism that a substantial luxury retail component could be included.

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Other new Downtown Toronto shopping centres may still be developed. In November 2012, we reported on a possible half-million square foot mall where the Globe & Mail headquarters are currently located. In January we reported on a retail component that could be part of a major residential/commercial project at the foot of Yonge Street.  In March we reported on a proposal for a 750,000 square foot mall as part of a proposed mega-project at Toronto's Exhibition Place. Most recently, we reported on a possible large shopping centre adjacent to Toronto's Ryerson University

Source: Globe & Mail article

[Oxford Place website]

[Oxford Place proposal]

[Oxford Properties website


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Prices in Canada's Nordstrom stores will be higher than those in its American stores. This can be attributed partly to our higher duties and taxes on imports, not to mention our higher fuel costs, labour costs and rent. Nordstrom says, however, that it will not be "undersold" and will offer a price-match guarantee on comparable products by Canadian competitors.

Nordstrom carries many designer labels already carried at competitors Holt Renfrew, Harry Rosen and Hudson's Bay. Nordstrom's first Canadian store opens in the fall of 2014 at Calgary's Chinook Centre. We expect 'label wars' as Nordstrom will seek to carry designers carried exclusively at these Canadian retailers.

Nordstrom will start advertising its Canadian arrival this fall, one year before its Calgary opening. It will be hiring Canadian store management and will train them for three months at its Seattle head office.

Nordstrom's Canadian stores will play piped-in modern music in its Canadian stores. This is a departure from the traditional piano players that traditionally graced American Nordstrom stores. In fact, in recent years, Nordstrom has eliminated most in-store piano players to the chagrin of some American shoppers. Ten American Nordstrom stores still have piano players.

Our source for most of this article's information is Marina Strauss of The Globe & Mail. She received this information from announcements made by Nordstrom's Canadian president, Karen McKibbin, during the Retail Council of Canada's Store 2013 conference being held this week in suburban Toronto.


[Nordstrom Canada website]


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We at Retail Insider are very sad to receive updates about almost 400 factory workers in Bangladesh having died in the collapse of an illegally built clothing factory. Several well-known inexpensive fashion labels used this factory, including more than one Canadian company. Instead of mentioning companies and names, we are pausing to reflect on the importance of working conditions, humanity and the proliferation of inexpensive items mass-produced in factories with limited safety standards. 

We are taking pause this Monday to reflect on this tragic loss of life. We're hoping for a future with better factory working conditions. This author is willing to pay more for clothing and goods to prevent future workplace tragedies such as the one last week in Bangladesh. 

[Globe & Mail article update]

[CBC article update]

ANOTHER Large Retail Development for Downtown Toronto

Queens Quay at Freeland Street in Downtown Toronto. Image: Hariri Pontarini Architects 
Downtown Toronto will be getting another large retail development, this time at the base of an impressive multi-tower proposal a the foot of Yonge Street near Lake Ontario. Ground-floor retail is proposed for what will include four residential towers up to a whopping 98 floors in height.

We are told that one of the retail tenants may be a larger-format grocery store, while one retail analyst speculates that a large format fashion retailer could also move into the retail portion of the project. Vancouver-based Pinnacle International is building the project on a city-block bound by Yonge Street on the East, Queens Quay to the South, Freeland Street to the West and Lake Shore Boulevard to the North. (see diagram, below).
Diagram of Pinnacle proposal. Image: Hariri Pontarini Architects 

Urban grocery stores are being built quickly across the country. Downtown Toronto already has a substantial number of grocery food retailers, and will be opening many more (including a new Whole Foods West of Downtown Toronto and a few others we will reveal in the coming weeks). We previously wrote an article on similar downtown retailers opening in 'Downtown Canada'.

Readers should note that this project is only a proposal but nevertheless, a substantial retail development is guaranteed for this site.

A commercial real estate broker has told us Target is looking for more than one Downtown Toronto location, and that this site could be desired but for the fact that retail on this site won't be available for a few years. Nevertheless, the density and vibrancy of the 'South of the Gardiner' section of Downtown Toronto is ripe for retail development at a scale previously unheard of.

This retail project joins a growing number of other Downtown Toronto retail projects we've reported on, including Oxford Place and the new Globe & Mail Centre complex.

[Source: Forum member @ UrbanToronto.ca]

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Upscale Mall Planned For Toronto's Current Globe and Mail Headquarters

Today we got word that a "unique and upscale" 500,000 square foot shopping centre is planned for the site currently occupied by Toronto's Globe & Mail (newspaper) headquarters. The project would also include residential and office components, as well as a smaller hotel.

As we reported earlierThe Toronto Eaton Centre's non-anchor square footage is 582,000 square feet (excluding Sears, Canadian Tire and Best Buy).

Toronto's Globe & Mail will move into a newly-built building at the corner of Front Street West and Spadina Avenue. This will leave a large site to be redeveloped as described above.

We have been told that the developer will court a variety of retailers, both local and international. It will be targeted as being 'upscale', though we have been provided few details about possible retailers at this time.

We received this information from a broker involved in a deal where Riocan Trust and Allied Properties REIT are finalizing a deal to purchase the current Globe & Mail site, shown on the map above. Once finalized, a development proposal will be presented to Toronto City Hall.

This is the second recently-announced shopping centre for Downtown Toronto. Earlier we reported on the proposed Oxford Place near Toronto's CN Tower.

Keep watching Retail Insider for updates. We've got the inside scoop on this exciting development!

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Got any retail insider info? insider@retail-insider.com