Holt Renfrew is investing over $400 million to renovate and expand stores across Canada, with a focus on luxury apparel and beauty brands. The Holt Renfrew store being renovated in Vancouver will serve as a template, the company said in a press release.
Stores slated for upgrades include Holt Renfrew Ogilvy in Montreal (with a phased opening through 2020), renovations to its Bloor Street West flagship store in Toronto and a 10,000-square foot expansion at Toronto's Yorkdale location. The last two are scheduled to be completed in 2020. Updates include investments in several technologies aimed to improve customer interaction and support online capabilities, the company also said.
The company, which has operated for some 180 years, will shutter its Bloor Street menswear store in Toronto and expand the flagship men's department instead; that will be 55% bigger than the stand-alone store.
Department stores in North America are continuing to struggle, but to Holt Renfrew President Mario Grauso, it's simply an evolution of the concept.
The two-year, 40,000-square foot expansion of Holt Renfrew Vancouver is nearly complete and serving as a blueprint for other renovations. The store's women's footwear area has tripled in size and houses an expanded beauty hall, personal shopping services and men's department. The location also features 75 luxury concessions that include brands like Chanel, Gucci, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Dior and others.
The stores are growing in size and scope. In Montreal, Holt Renfrew Ogilvy will expand to over 250,000 square feet, making it the largest Holt Renfrew in the country. The store is adding an expanded beauty hall, leather goods shop and an enhanced women's footwear department, along with stores for many household luxury names.
The location in Yorkdale will also grow, by between 10,000 and 129,000 square feet, to accommodate an expanded personal shopping service. The Toronto Bloor Street West flagship (down the street from its closing men's store) will expand and renovate its women's footwear department, opening as early as winter 2018, and will include an expanded beauty department, a women's leather goods area, the expanded men's department, shops from top brands and a new Colette Grand Café.
Holt Renfrew is making an expansive luxury play based on strong faith in physical retail. The company said that "bricks and mortar stores will always be the cornerstone of the business." But technology also has a key role to play.