A pair of lavish newcomers are challenging Holt Renfrew for luxury department store supremacy. Last summer, Hudson’s Bay Company purchased the high-end American retailer Saks Fifth Avenue in a $3-billion takeover. To showcase its shiny new holdings, HBC will open a 150,000-square-foot Saks store inside the existing Queen Street Bay flagship, specializing in exquisite brands like Gucci, Prada, Givenchy and Céline. Across the street, in the old Sears space where we used to buy cheap tube socks and Tempur-Pedic mattresses, Nordstrom will sell Stella McCartney streetwear, Christopher Kane cocktail dresses and Lanvin gowns in a 213,000-square-foot, three-storey department store scheduled to open in 2016. It’s no surprise that these posh emporia have targeted Toronto: the city’s median household income hovers around $70,000, compared to $57,000 in New York and $53,000 in Chicago. Factor in the downtown density and influx of single, spendthrift professionals in condos, and it’s a vortex of free-flying disposable dollars. Two weeks after news of Saks’ arrival broke, Holt’s announced it would create a lavish men’s-only shop on the Mink Mile, in the space recently vacated by Roots. The new retailers have created a spirit of healthy competition in the city’s luxury landscape, and while Saks, Nordstrom and Holt’s fight their retail wars, we’ll be looting the spoils.
Hudson’s Bay Company
From now until August 10, Toronto cyclists can pick up a chic ride from Martone Cycling Co. at the brand’s new pop-up in The Room at Hudson’s Bay. Previously, local shoppers had to venture online if they wanted to snag one of the New York label’s distinctive bikes, which come in a range of bold, monochromatic hues, including scarlet, silver and gold. Each bike features a subtle handlebar basket, signature red chain and gears that shift automatically based on speed, making them the ideal vehicle for casual urban exploration. Or, forget the cycling—the immaculate, all-white model could double as a piece of modern art. $1,460—$1,560
Until Aug. 10. 176 Yonge St., thebay.com
Like it or not, Toronto is becoming a haven for international luxury labels: Yorkdale just announced five new brands, including Bulgari and Jimmy Choo, and Agent Provocateur is set to open shop on Bloor Street sometime next month. Apparently, Toronto shoppers have money to burn, which is why incoming American department store Saks Fifth Avenue, already a pretty fancy shopping destination, plans to be even more upscale when it arrives in Canada in 2016.
According to the Globe, Richard Baker, CEO of Hudson’s Bay Co. (which acquired Saks last year), has deduced from Canadians’ penchant for pricey online-shopping purchases that shoppers in this country have an insatiable demand for luxury department-store goods. To cater to those shopping habits, he plans on stocking Canadian Saks stores with even pricier stuff than they sell in the U.S. Considering that many existing Saks locations carry top designers like Alexander Wang, Burberry and Stella McCartney, we’re not sure how much more upscale the department store can get. (That said, there are at least a few Saks outlets south of the border that could use a serious update.) According to Baker, the brand’s Canadian expansion will see “uber-luxurious stores with world-class product and designers.” This is good news for Toronto millionaires. The rest of us can continue shopping at the Bay.
Three T.O.-based real estate power players, apparently not satisfied with the dandelion-like spread of skyscrapers in our core, have invaded the high-rent mecca of NYC
Manhattanite carpetbaggers have long trekked north to snap up our real estate. Finally, the reverse is true. Since the recession, three T.O. companies have been buying up New York turf like a real-life Monopoly game. Here, the players and properties.
Late last week, news broke that Hudson Bay’s Team Canada toques were completely sold out—both online and in stores. The pompom-topped hats were lauded by the New York Times as one of the few semi-stylish pieces of Sochi Games apparel. At just $20, they were also a relatively inexpensive way for Canadian Sochi followers to display their patriotism. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. Those who missed out on securing a toque through legitimate channels will have to fork over up to $200 on eBay if they want to sport a cap for the final hockey match-ups. Apparently, we’re not the only country desperate to purchase vastly overpriced Sochi garb: the American team’s delightfully tacky knit sweaters are currently going for over a grand.
Bloor Street shoppers who were pumped for Saks Fifth Avenue to re-vamp The Bay’s tired Yorkville space will have to put up with the department store’s drab concrete exterior a while longer. In a puzzling move, Hudson’s Bay has decided to forgo plans to open Saks at Bloor and Yonge. The company has instead opted to enter into a deal with Cadillac Fairview to sell its Queen Street flagship for $650 million and buy back the lease, bringing the city’s first Saks to the downtown property. The 150,000 square-foot, multi-floor Saks is slated to share the plot with the existing Canadian department store, but the exact division of space is yet unclear. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Watch out, Holts: another luxury department store is staking its claim on the Mink Mile. Saks Fifth Avenue—which was recently snapped up by Hudson’s Bay Company— is planning to hoist their Canadian flagship at Yonge and Bloor Streets. Saks will be replacing the concrete-clad Bay location, which has been looking a little neglected while HBC poured love into its Queen West store. The mammoth space—Hudson’s Bay CEO was quick to point out to ROB that it’s “double the size of Holt’s”—will make it the world’s second largest Saks after the one on its namesake avenue in New York. The new owners are expecting to transform the space quickly, both inside and out, giving it a white façade with large glass sheets facing the street. No opening date is set, but we’re hoping that December 2014′s Christmas window showdown is going to be off the (gold) chain. [Report on Business]
Even the most ardent advocate of handmade goods sometimes gets overwhelmed by the dizzying realm of Etsy. Enter Brika (“bree-ka”), a Toronto-based e-retailer offering a curated selection of modern crafts, along with information about the artisans who make them. The company’s brand new pop-up shop in the Queen Street Hudson’s Bay is full of Canadian-made home decor goods, stationery and jewellery, all with a quirky-cute aesthetic reminiscent of Anthropologie. (We’re jonesing for the knitted metal jewellery from Golden Designs and the whimsical tea towels from Freshly Printed.) The Canadian creations will be at The Bay through the holidays, and are also available online alongside a larger selection of crafts from U.S.-based makers.
Brika, Hudson’s Bay, 176 Yonge St., brika.com
After weeks of negotiations and rumours of competing bids, Hudson’s Bay Company has finalized a $2.9-billion deal to buy Saks Fifth Avenue and its discount offshoot Saks Off Fifth. HBC CEO Richard Baker is reportedly itching to bring the the two stores to Canada: either by incorporating the Saks banner into select Hudson’s Bay locations or by converting entire Hudson’s Bay stores into Saks stores. Either way, HBC better move quickly if it wants to strike ahead of Nordstrom’s arrival next year. [Globe and Mail]
In three months, HBC has promoted luxury guru Bonnie Brooks, opened Canada’s largest women’s shoe store, hinted it wants to partner with Uniqlo and announced a Toronto Kleinfeld Bridal boutique. Now, the company is reportedly looking to purchase Saks Inc., which owns 40-odd Saks Fifth Avenue stores across the U.S. We like the potential benefits for both HBC and Canadian shoppers: Saks’ relationships with luxury designers could bring Hudson’s Bay more high-end brands and converting some existing Bay locations into Saks stores would make better use of HBC’s real estate. The acquisition would also net prime American retail locations for HBC’s Lord and Taylor banner. Still, it’s probably a little too early to get excited. Several U.S. private equity groups are rumoured to be interested in Saks and similar talks between HBC CEO Richard Baker and Bloomingdales never ended up yielding a deal. [Women’s Wear Daily]
Bonnie Brooks, the luxury retail whiz who led Hudson’s Bay’s revamp from dowdy department store to high-flying retailer, is stepping back from day-to-day leadership with a new job as vice-chairman. After becoming president in 2008, Brooks dropped hundreds of underperforming lines, like Liz Claiborne and Bill Blass, and brought in buzzier brands, like Top Shop and Coach, along with a high-end boutique that regularly draws socialites and celebrities. CEO Richard Baker says the promotion will allow Brooks to work on similar big-picture strategies for HBC’s other brands, which include 69 Home Outfitters stores and 48 Lord and Taylor department stores in the U.S. HBC chief merchant Liz Rodbell will take over as the new president. Brooks, however, will remain the public face (and voice, presumably) of the company. [Globe and Mail]
After months of rumours, the American owners of Hudson’s Bay Company have officially announced that they’re going public with Canada’s oldest company. NRDC Equity Partners, the New York–based private group that has owned HBC since 2008, has filed for an initial public offering of shares of HBC, Home Outfitters and U.S. chain Lord and Taylor. According to the pundits, the timing is good: the Bay’s sales have jumped in the past two years (the department store was reportedly breaking even or losing money for 20 years prior), and selling shares now will ensure NRDC cashes in before revenues are undercut by incoming American giants Nordstrom and Target. All of which means patriotic Canadians eager to bring the iconic stripes home will finally be able to do so (well, one share at a time). [Toronto Star]
More changes are afoot within Hudson’s Bay Company: the company has announced it will close the majority of the 64 remaining Zellers department stores that were not sold to Target Corporation last year. The Zellers stores are expected to be phased out by March 2013, but a spokesperson told the Financial Post that HBC is contemplating reopening some of the locations under another name. Any hardcore Zellers lovers left out there—hey, there may be some—can take comfort in the fact that Target is scheduled to launch in Canada around the same time, so there should be no scarcity of low-cost clothing
available. [Financial Post]
LS Travel Retail North America has announced plans to open the first-ever Hudson’s Bay Company airport store this October at Pearson. The shop, which will be located in Terminal 1, is slated to sell items from HBC’s signature collection: candles, sweaters and HBC point blankets, all in the Bay’s traditional four-stripe pattern. If the average traveler changes temperature as frequently as we do on a long flight, we imagine the Bay will sell a lot of blankets (and should those ever sell out, we’re picturing a red-eye flight where everyone is wearing Olympic-branded red mittens).
Rumours are swirling about an initial public offering for Canadian icon Hudson’s Bay Company. Women’s Wear Daily is reporting that HBC’s owners want to capitalize off The Bay’s recent rehabilitation—the department store has seen a marked improvement in finances since 2010 (it was reportedly running negative or break-even comp-store sales for 20 years prior to that), a Topshop expansion and reports of other retail partnerships in the works. Moreover, as Canada’s retail sector braces for Target’s impending arrival, the fact that HBC has operations both north (The Bay, Home Outfitters) and south (Lord and Taylor) of the border could be a draw to investors. In 2011, the company was exploring the possibility of listing publicly, but the idea was reportedly squashed due to market volatility. This time, Richard Baker, HBC’s governor and CEO, is remaining cagey. He told WWD, “There is nothing on the radar at the moment, but it could come at any time.” Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »