Londonderry Mall’s Ongoing Transformation and Hudson’s Bay Retention [Podcast]

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Craig and Lee discuss the transformation and new additions at Londonderry Mall in Edmonton, including a passport office, Shoppers Drug Mart BeautyBOUTIQUE, and a downsized Hudson’s Bay store with a potential outlet concept. They explore how the mall caters to the diverse local community with relevant amenities and retailers.

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Transcript

Announcer 0:00
This is Retail Insider Podcast. You’re listening to “The Weekly”.

Lee Rivett 0:08
Welcome to this week’s episode of “The Weekly” by Retail Insider. I’m Lee Rivett and I’m joined with the owner and publisher of Retail Insider Media, Craig Patterson, to discuss this week’s most read articles on retail-insider.com. So thanks for joining me, Craig.

Craig Patterson 0:22
Hello, everyone.

Lee Rivett 0:23
Now for this week Londonderry Shopping Center in Edmonton, Alberta is our popular article for the week. And Craig, you’re from Edmonton. So this is a near and dear article to your heart. Now they have some new tenants. Hudson Bay has some announcements going on there too. So Craig, where do you like to start?

Craig Patterson 0:40
Well, let’s talk a bit about Londonderry. It’s one of the larger malls in the Edmonton market. I’ve got a long history there myself having lived in the city years ago. Londonderry mall is getting some new tenants, amenities – which are really going to think cater to the local community, which is quite multicultural.

Lee Rivett 0:57
No and I agree. And just some quick facts before we go further from the ‘Cushman and Wakefield’ website (because they are the landlords of Londonderry shopping mall). It was built in 1972 and there was major renovations in 1983. It expanded and 1991 and then was redeveloped between 2014 and 2017. So it was quite a long span. But up into this point, the major anchors have been Hudson Bay, Save On Foods, Winners and Simons. Besides them, there’s 150 stores in the mall. There’s 3500 parking spots and about 217,000 people live within five kilometers of the shopping mall in the Northeast. So yeah, so it’s quite a happening mall. And so besides this kind of snapshot from Cushman and Wakefield website, what’s happening now, Craig?

Craig Patterson 1:43
There’s a few things coming up here. So in 2024, a passport office is coming to the mall.

Lee Rivett 1:49
Totally. And it’s just another amenity, especially since the area so multicultural and diverse right? So instead of standing in line in the middle of nowhere at a Service Canada building, it’s in a mall, which is great. But is there anything from your perspective that this addresses?

Craig Patterson 2:02
I think this addresses a few things this is a way to add foot traffic it’s it’s a non-retail tenant in a shopping center, which is going to bring people in make the center even more relevant than it already is.

Lee Rivett 2:13
Like foot traffic.

Craig Patterson 2:14
I think just be a really great addition to Londonderry – so So kudos to those who put that deal together in terms of getting that lease or however it’s set up with with with Londonderry, Cushman and Wakefield is the landlord. I’ve been talking to various experts, people in the industry around sort of the new retail or non-retail tenants, specifically being retailers moving into such places as shopping centers, and we’re definitely seeing that here with Londonderry. So, again, I think it’s terrific.

Lee Rivett 2:41
So what else is going on to the mall?

Craig Patterson 2:43
Another addition to the shopping center, it’s not the biggest thing, but the Shoppers Drug Mart store at Londonderry is about 17,000 square feet, it’s on the main floor, added a beautyBOUTIQUE.

Lee Rivett 2:54
And for those that don’t know what a beautyBOUTIQUE is, yes, Shoppers Drug Mart is a traditional pharmacy and it does have let’s say groceries and stuff added in. But the beautyBOUTIQUE section is specific for haircare skincare, makeup, fragrances, tools, accessories for men and women. And they literally have staff that have been trained and are knowledgeable in the products as opposed to it just being another aisle in a traditional grocery store. So if you walked into your grocery store and needed some help with deciding what you needed, you’d need to flag down somebody who might be grocery bagger or produce person. And they wouldn’t have any specialty knowledge like what the beautyBOUTIQUE would be in Shoppers Drug Mart so and plus they’d have a much wider more upper class product offerings. So it’s great. They’re expanding that.

Craig Patterson 3:43
There’s, I guess somewhat a lack of a competition there other than the Hudson’s Bay store, but I’ll be talking about that in a moment because I don’t think it’s going to have a beauty department pretty soon. But nevertheless, the Shoppers Drug Mart store they’re expanding in terms of its offerings, having a beauty boutique, I think is a great addition to the neighbourhood again. You’ve got prestige, cosmetics, everything that would be in there that would again drive traffic to Londonderry. Apparently Shoppers Drug Mart is the number one beauty retailer in Canada now in terms of sales, so it makes sense that it would do this expansion and offer these here. So it’s really taken over from I guess what would have been perhaps Sears and Hudson’s Bay in the past, those two retailers I think would have had the bulk of the beauty business, but things have certainly changed. Sephora, of course, is very, very strong as well.

Lee Rivett 4:28
And let’s move into the grocery section.

Craig Patterson 4:30
So a few months ago, we actually did a report on “No Frills” coming into Londonderry, the lower price grocery store chain that’s owned by Loblaw. The store actually replaced a Save On Foods which had been there.

Lee Rivett 4:45
Oh wow. Okay, well, Cushman and Wakefield need to update their lease plan in the details on their website for Londonderry because they still have Save On Foods listed as a retailer So yep, but keep going.

Craig Patterson 4:57
So for those Save On Foods as a western Canadian grocery chain it’s known to be a little bit more expensive, or at least traditionally, I don’t know what’s happening now with prices because they no frills doesn’t seem to seems to be expensive for something with that allegedly has no frills but nevertheless, is replaced, Save On Foods, which in theory may have been a more expensive store at least at the time. I know that things have changed recently, but I’ve been told I talked to someone at Cushman and Wakefield. They said that this no frills store is doing really well. Lots of people coming in lots of foot traffic. So I think it’s really addressing the neighborhood. So, again, I think Londonderry is coming together as this neighborhood center for the community that surrounds it again at the passport office with a grocery store that people can hopefully afford to shop at. With, you know, beauty offering Shoppers Drug Mart that is far more robust, I think, than what would have been there before.

Lee Rivett 5:49
No, totally. And I think Londonderry shopping mall is supporting the community quite well. Is there any other announcements that you wanted to touch upon too.

Craig Patterson 5:58
So probably the biggest announcement here that was made was the retention of the Hudson’s Bay store at Londonderry. So in February, I’d gotten word that the Hudson’s Bay had confirmed it, by the way that the Hudson’s Bay store at Londonderry was was set to close in August of 2023. So that was the plan. And I wrote about it, the Banff store was announced to be closing in the same month. But we subsequently got word that the Hudson’s Bay store at Londonderry will stay open. So there’s one big announcement it’s going to serve the local community, the Banff Store is still closing I should say as well just for those who are wondering. Londonderry is staying open, but Londonderry will be smaller. So right now the store has two floors, it’s got about 118,000 square feet and a little bit of space according to the lease plans that I was looking at. So it’s going to be downsized to about half that. So about 60,000 square feet just to round it off. My understanding is this is going to be a bit of an outlet concept. Which means I think it was a bit of a rollout of a new Hudson’s Bay concept coming out here, which I need to investigate a little bit more before I do further articles and discuss it. But nevertheless, this is what’s going to be happening in Londonderry. So this store is something which will either be off price or outlet or something with prices that will be a bit more value focused, again, I think is going to serve the community around Londonderry, which, again, is a diverse population. It’s not the highest income part of the city. It’s not it’s not I’m not saying it’s poor, but certainly I think shoppers that live in that area and come to that mall are going to be very much appreciative of things that are affordable. I know the Winners store does very well in that mall, in terms of sales. So again, it’s actually a really big beautiful store. I’ve been told these myself, so Londonderry is a really interesting shopping center. So keeping this Hudson’s Bay store I think is great.

Lee Rivett 7:45
So what’s gonna happen with the vacated upstairs?

Craig Patterson 7:49
Now the upper level about – will say 60,000 square feet again – is there’s going to be an opportunity to extend the mall, curve the hallways around so you can walk all the way around and it remains to be seen what type of retail services amenities could be added in there. But I think that Cushman and Wakefield is going to conceptualize something interesting and look at continuing to evolve Londonderry as a shopping center.

Lee Rivett 8:13
Could you go into a little bit more of the current history just because when I went through the ‘fast facts’ – it might not have been fully up to date as we now know buy Save On Foods.

Craig Patterson 8:21
Yeah, so in 2015 it was announced but it was 20 Vic at the time – 20 Vic management, now Cushman, I think bought them out. I think that was how that worked. But there would be an investment of more than $130 million to basically overhauled and Londonderry shopping center and to something that’d be quite new.

Lee Rivett 8:39
Well, now that makes sense that there were several years for that redevelopment listed in the Quick Facts.

Image: Londonderry Mall

Craig Patterson 8:43
One of the big announcements as well was the addition of La Maison Simons – the Quebec City based large format fashion retailer that also has some home goods and whatnot, kind of like a department store – moving into Londonderry.

Craig Patterson 8:57
Just to put a personal spin on the story. In 2015, I was working with the University of Alberta, the School of retailing, which is now a center of cities and communities. It’s merged and grown, but I was working with them and we were working on the Londonderry project actually in a consulting capacity with our student Consulting Group. And Emily Salisbury, our executive director. told me “Craig, don’t report this yet. But the anchor tenant that we got here is Simons” and I thought she was joking, to be honest, because already Simons had a store at West Edmonton Mall. I thought it had a radius clause, which it did. I think that was forgiven. But I always thought, Oh, you’re so funny, Emily. And she’s like, No, no, no, I’m not kidding. And, of course she wasn’t but I just I just do not honestly never would have pictured this. So this was a very substantial renovation. I was toured through here as the renovations were being completed and they were showing me how the ceilings had been raised, and how the facades were able to be raised as a result. So the amount of money and effort that went into this renovation was absolutely massive. I don’t know what the final price was. We had $130-something million as being the number that was thrown out in 2015 when it was announced and when I wrote about it at first when I was permitted to, and I don’t know what the final cost was probably more you know how things are things are always more expensive at the end, but nevertheless, I think it’s the nicest looking mall in the Edmonton market in terms of being a large format shopping center with a renovation nothing against West Edmonton Mall or South Gate or Kingsway, but just the interiors of Londonderry looks a bit like Yorkdale actually, I think someone might have copied somebody but it’s great. I mean, you’ve got the, you know, limestone looking floors, the natural light, the bright Food Court, which I think is a part of the old Eatons space at Londonderry

Lee Rivett 10:41
And it was opened back in the 70s. Right?

Craig Patterson 10:44
Londonderry was built in 1972, or at least it opened I should say 1972. So it’s over 50 years old, a bit older than I am. The was the largest shopping center in Canada, west of Toronto, so in Western Canada, but even beyond. I think Yorkdale would have been bigger and maybe a couple of others, but it was the only two level mall in Western Canada at the time. It had three anchor stores when it opened Hudson’s Bay which is still in its original location where it opened in 1972. And it’ll be a little smaller as I mentioned, but Eaton’s was at another another part of the mall and Eaton’s after it closed in what 1999 I think it would have been or there abouts is now tended by the grocery store by No Frills. There was a food court upstairs and then there’s also a Fabricland and a Dollarama upstairs as well. So having been there a few months ago, so that’s the old Eaton’s box and then there was a Woolco there years ago. Woolco having been another department store in at least I think Western Canada at the time. I think it might have been replaced by a Walmart after that, honestly, I don’t know. I’d have to check on that. But that’s what happened with a lot of the Woolco stores. I remember when I was in grade 12, there was the big transition from Woolco to Walmart. It was an exciting time and Canadian retail even though I don’t think Walmart was doing that well to start. Obviously, now Walmart is wildly successful in Canada.

Craig Patterson 12:14
But Londonderry has a really interesting history, from 1970 to being an important shopping center. It’s continued to progress. I was there a while ago, and there’s lots of independent retailers at Londonderry. It’s quite interesting. Now, it does speak to the fact that I think it had been a bit of a challenge to lease to perhaps leased spaces to some of the big international and international tenants. You know, Londonderry is its its own trade area. But there’s lots of competition in Edmonton having Kingsway mall with stores like Sephora and Lululemon and West Edmonton Mall which has gone one step above with Louis Vuitton and Gucci and South Gate Center, which is a terrific shopping center again with some of the big national and international tenants but Londonderry has, I think, found its place to a degree with some interesting local shops like the 780 local shoe stores local food, and you get a really diverse population of people shopping in there. So I think that for the community, the direction that Londonderry is taking, even if it doesn’t have a big Sephora store in it, like some of the other malls. I think this is the right direction for Londonderry. So I’m excited to see what’s going to happen on the second level of the Hudson’s Bay store as Cushman and Wakefield looks to repurpose that back into retail, and add new retailers, services, amenities, whatever else might happen. So we probably should come back and do another podcast I don’t know in a year or two or whenever that has been figured out. And, you know, those new tenants are in there and we’ll continue talking about Londonderry as being a great community center for Northeast Edmonton, if you can call it that.

Lee Rivett 13:54
When is there anything else you’d like to mention about Londonderry but just to wrap up the podcast at this point?

Craig Patterson 13:59
As the mall has continued to see some updates and changes just recently. I know in 2019 H&M opened a store at Londonderry which I think was a huge score. I mean, that’s not a local type of retailer but it is a fashion retailer which is serving the local population and is not expensive, thank goodness so I got some great socks at that’s H&M store by the way when I was in there last time at Londonderry but again, I think it’s another great tenant that it’s in there. It’s a major I think a great score for the shopping center to get that type of a retailer so it’s right by Simons and Simons itself I mean, the store is beautiful. They all the new ones are It’s got our you know the artwork piece in the center. It’s not a luxury heavy Simon store like at West Edmonton Mall which has all kinds of luxury brands but sometimes I almost prefer shopping the Londonderry one just because it’s a bit quieter but it’s got a lot of the private label stuff it may not have sold out like the like the West Edmonton Mall store. I like the private label stuff from Simons it’s affordable and quite had edgy or at least fashion forward in many cases, and the quality isn’t that bad either. So I a great store. I mean, I’m just a big fan of Simons at Londonderry and Simons is generally so open in downtown Toronto and Vancouver, please is my word for Simons. But that’s a whole other discussion here that I’ve been talking for a while.

Image: Londonderry Mall

Lee Rivett 15:21
Oh, it’s all good. And thanks for going through this popular content for the week. I know you’re from Edmonton. You love Londonderry. You had done some work on it. So this is going to be great. And again, thanks for going through it and talk to you next week.

Craig Patterson 15:32
Thank you so much everyone for listening. Take care and bye for now.

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