Holt Renfrew to expand and renovate its Vancouver flagship

Dec 19 2017, 7:55 pm

Holt Renfrew will expand and renovate its Pacific Centre store, bringing more luxury brands to Vancouver in a world-class setting. A restaurant will also be added, as will a VIP luxury shopping ‘Apartment.’

Sources say that the Holt Renfrew Vancouver store, now the chain’s top-performer, will be expanded by annexing two adjacent sports retailers. This will grow its current 140,000 square foot store by as much as 40,000 square feet.

Vancouver’s Holt’s will be at least partly renovated to include a restaurant as well as expanded footwear and leather goods departments. It will also update its personal shopping areas, the most productive space in the store, and add a by-invitation-only luxury shopping ‘Apartment’ for its top clients.

The Vancouver store, which replaced a 68,000 square foot location at the mall in the spring of 2007, has seen sales more than double in the past seven years, according to sources. The new restaurant will likely follow the original plans of building a restaurant on the rooftop of the building.

A source at Holt Renfrew says that Italian luxury brand Miu Miu will likely open an accessories boutique within the store, and they expect the store’s women’s footwear to expand substantially. If its recently renovated Yorkdale Shopping Centre store is any indication, boutiques for Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik and other luxury brands could open within Holt’s expanded women’s footwear department.

According to a press release issued by Holt Renfrew, the expansion/renovation to the Vancouver store should be completed before the end of 2017. A source in the company confirms that the project is being handled by New York City-based architectural firm Janson Goldstein.

Holt Renfrew’s Vancouver’s store expansion is part of the retailer’s plan to concentrate on operating larger locations in just five Canadian cities. This strategy could be in response to expected competition from Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, both opening Canadian locations over the next several years.

Nordstrom will open in Pacific Centre next year, and Saks Fifth Avenue will open at least one Vancouver store, according to a source in the company.

Holt Renfrew will see substantial competition from several large retailers, which are either building new stores or expanding their existing locations. As a result, Holt Renfrew appears to be concentrating on expanding and improving its top-performing locations, spending in excess of $300 million to increase its store square footage from about 800,000 to over 1.2 million square feet.

Here is how Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and Harry Rosen are all putting pressure on Holt Renfrew’s bottom line:

Saks Fifth Avenue

Holt Renfrew’s announced store closures may be partly in response to Saks Fifth Avenue’s plans to open in Vancouver. Saks has already announced two Canadian locations – a 150,000 square foot store occupying part of Toronto’s 850,000 square foot Hudson’s Bay flagship, and a 130,000 square foot location to occupy part of a former Sears store at Toronto’s Sherway Gardens. Sources confirm that Saks is looking to open at least one similarly sized store in Vancouver, if not two.


The upscale Seattle-based retailer will open its largest Canadian location, measuring 230,000 square feet, on September 18, 2015. Nordstrom plans to open as many as seven Canadian stores, including its first Canadian location this month at Calgary’s Chinook Centre.

Although less upscale than Holt Renfrew, Nordstrom’s exceptional customer service may pull some clients away from Holt’s. Nordstrom will also carry an assortment of top-priced designers which are also carried at Holt Renfrew, though it also carries more moderately priced items in various product categories.

Harry Rosen

Upscale menswear retailer Harry Rosen plans to renovate both its Pacific Centre and Oakridge Centre locations, and we’re told that it will likely open a third location somewhere in the Vancouver area. Harry Rosen is adding new designers to its stores, as well as an expanded assortment of footwear and accessories.

Harry Rosen’s customer service is exceptional, and it spends more on staff training than any Canadian retailer. It has considerable brand loyalty and appears keen to maintain its status as Canada’s premier menswear retailer.

We’re awaiting further details on Holt Renfrew’s Vancouver store expansion, including information on its new restaurant concept.

Stay tuned for more exciting retail announcements from RETAIL INSIDER, here on Vancity Buzz.


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DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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