Craig and Lee discuss the groundbreaking transformation underway at Toronto’s Yorkdale shopping center, a conversation centered on the future of luxury retail within this retail hub. The focal point of their conversation is the extensive luxury retail expansion that’s poised to redefine the mall’s allure. Craig provides listeners with intricate insights into how approximately 100,000 square feet of prime retail space will be thoroughly revamped to accommodate a meticulously curated collection of luxury brand flagships. While exact tenant names remain shrouded in secrecy due to ongoing negotiations and non-disclosure agreements, the venture is anticipated to usher in a dozen or so high-end stores, with one potentially standout store boasting an impressive 15,000 square feet.
Drawing on insights gleaned from an enlightening interview with William Correia, the visionary mall Director, Craig and Lee underscore the monumental scale of the ambitious undertaking. They reveal the staggering investment channeled into the meticulous renovation of the expansive central corridor. The conversation also delves into Yorkdale’s strategic pursuit of exclusivity as Craig traces the gradual migration of luxury boutiques down the centre’s corridor over the years. As the discussion progresses, the duo thoughtfully assesses the possibility of an oversaturation of luxury brands within the mall landscape, pondering whether Yorkdale might emerge as one of the globe’s preeminent luxury shopping destinations, enticing affluent consumers and fashion aficionados from far and wide.
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Retail Insider content discussed this episode:
- Yorkdale Launches Unprecedented 100,000 Square Foot Luxury Retail Expansion in Toronto [Feature/Photos]
This is a 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
Lee Rivett 0:23
Now for this podcast, our most read article was Yorkdale launching an unprecedented luxury retail expansion in Toronto. So Craig – you’ve been there, you took all the photos, you wrote the article. So where would you like to start?
Craig Patterson 0:36
Well, it was an interesting announcement, something we’ve seen for a little while anyone that’s been to Yorkdale. The centre run of the shopping centre (or centre spine or whatever people want to call it – I’ve heard it called multiple things) is being re-tenanted right now. About 100,000 square feet of space is going to be repurposed into luxury retailers. And they’re saying somewhere around a dozen or so stores will be opening in that wing. They don’t know the exact number because they’re still negotiating leases and determining how big the stores will be. So I think one of the units will be something like 15,000 square feet was what I was told.
Lee Rivett 1:12
Where did we get this information from? And just how massive of an upgrade or expansion is it?
Craig Patterson 1:18
So I spoke to the mall director, William Correia, and he was telling me that there’s over 900 feet of construction hoarding going up this hallway. They’re spending over $20 million. I think just on the build-out of the hallway itself. I don’t know, the question I didn’t ask is if it’s going to look different in terms the flooring and whatnot will be changing. This is something I’ll follow up on.
Lee Rivett 1:44
Now what’s going to be in the centre run?
Craig Patterson 1:47
The centre run is going to have a whole bunch of really expensive stores. They haven’t said what the brands are going to be. There’s a bunch of non-disclosure agreements there, there’s a couple that I will talk about only because they’re pretty darn obvious and moves are going to happen. And I won’t talk about the other ones out of respect for the process of the negotiations, and the whole thing. And plus, we want to announce more stuff later on. So I’ll hold off on that.
Lee Rivett 2:09
We were just talking before the podcast and you were mentioning that you were almost foreseeing expansion like this happening for that chunk of the mall, right?
Craig Patterson 2:18
I kind of figured this luxury expansion was coming down this hallway a while ago. The reason I say that is because we started to see luxury stores creeping down the hallway. I don’t mean that in a negative way. I mean, we started seeing expensive stores moving down this hallway. So taking you back in history. In 2009, Tiffany and Co. opened a jewelry store at Yorkdale right by Holt Renfrew. Now, taking it back even a little bit further, Holt Renfrew has been in the mall for a while and moved into an old grocery store at the south end of the mall. I think it was a Dominion store. So it had the high ceilings and whatnot. Holts at the time was was, I think 40,000 to 50,000 square feet moved into this old Dominion grocery store. And so high end retail at Yorkdale. But in 2009, Tiffany opened right across from it. And then we saw Burberry opened and then we started seeing Versace and Ferragamo and some other stores opening.
Craig Patterson 3:12
This was in around what’s this only 10 years ago, actually, and Retail Insider existed. So I was actually tracking this and that luxury expansion continued year over year. So we saw more brands opening in this little wing, which was basically protruding northward of Holt Renfrew. And then Saint Laurent kind of wanted its own space, but it wanted a bigger and broader facade. So it took a space near this luxury wing, but kind of to the side. And with that, Oxford Properties, obviously, they’ve got a longer term strategy that they don’t want publicly released, but it was to put more luxury stores in Yorkdale. Because they were doing – well sales were great. Cartier over $40 million, even before its expansion, Tiffany doing 10s of millions a year in sales. So they said, well, let’s put more expensive stores in here. It’s going to increase the productivity and you can charge more rent and it’s gonna make the mall fancier. So, Saint Laurent came in the long story short, added more luxury retailers, more luxury retailers who just kept coming. The there was a wing built in 2012, which saw Holt Renfrew expand. Holt Renfrew built some concessions with mall-facing entrances. We’ll talk about that a bit more. And most of the retailers in that 2012 wing right by Holt Renfrew, also are now luxury stores. So Ralph Lauren is about to open a store first in Canada of its kind. Dolce Gabbana just opened a store in that wing. And they all replaced other retailers that had been in that 2012 expansion wing before. So it’s really fascinating to see what Oxford Properties is doing in terms of bringing more luxury brands to Yorkdale.
Lee Rivett 4:34
Bring it back to the retail expansion. This is yet another one in the laundry list of retail expansions of a luxury bend. Is there potentially too much luxury going into Yorkdale?
Craig Patterson 4:46
Will Correia (and not even just him) are saying that this is going to make Yorkdale one of probably the world’s leading shopping centres with luxury brands. It’s, I think, true. You look at what’s happening in the United States and there’s a few but Yorkdale is gonna be I think up there with all of them.
Lee Rivett 4:59
And Yorkdale isn’t the only game in town. Yorkville, which is another downtown luxury node, is still there.
Craig Patterson 5:06
Yeah, the market is split. So this is quite remarkable because you know, Toronto with its size, and wealth seems to be maybe even punching above its weight for luxury retail.
Lee Rivett 5:15
It’s kind of exciting to see new retailers potentially coming up a luxury bend into this area. But what was the progress or progression leading up to this point at Yorkdale?
Craig Patterson 5:25
This luxury, expansion wing, we started seeing it was a 2017 European boutique opened an Omega store and they opened a Breitling boutique. Rafi jewelers across the hall has a Rolex on the corner opened a Tudor store before that Jaeger lacouture was there. But then it opened a corporate store at the other end of this now to become a luxury wing. So we started to see these luxury stores creeping inwards a little bit. So I saw that they had this entertainment space in the center, I think most recently was “The Office” experience – “The Office” being the TV show – and it’s gone now. So they’ve taken all this hoarding, they’ve put it down the hallway, it’s almost empty. UNTuckIT, it’s going to be moving. Mitchell’s bakery is going to be moving into a new spot. Aldo and Call It Spring. They’ll kicking out anybody that isn’t really fancy and expensive that isn’t already there. And putting in luxury stores. So this is pretty exciting, actually.
Lee Rivett 6:17
And what’s this new luxury run or concentration going to do for Yorkdale, in your opinion?
Craig Patterson 6:23
So, you know, really, to put it bluntly, more rich people are going to be coming to Yorkdale to shop. And even just people that want to have expensive things. They may not be rich, but there’s been a bit of an upgrading happening to the services Yorkdale expanded valet parking. I think a renovation to the valet lounge. I don’t think it’s been fully decided and it can’t be discussed yet regardless, but there’s gonna be some new VIP program around I think the valet parking and just customers in general. So really what Yorkdale is trying to do is bring in shoppers with money, especially those that are high spending consumers and get them to stay in the mall. So with that there’s a few restaurants in there as well that are kind of nice, that would, you know, keep people there shopping longer perhaps than they would otherwise if they got hungry.
Lee Rivett 7:06
We also had a little bit of juicy tidbits from a gossip perspective. Do you want to touch upon that really quick?
Craig Patterson 7:12
The Chanel concession at Holt Renfrew is going to expand quite significantly because there’s going to be some movement within Holt Renfrew. So some of the concessions that are at Holt Renfrew right now are going to be moving into this new Yorkdale luxury wing. And these will be standalone stores. One of them and this isn’t the reason I named it already is because it’s going to be moving. I think by December. It’s going to be Brunello Cucinelli, which has maybe almost 2000 square feet in Holt Renfrew as a concession with a mall facing entrance. And it’s next to Chanel. Well Brunello is going to exit probably take a pop-up space, I’m gonna guess probably where Mont Blanc is. I’m probably not wrong actually. It’s just a guess. But because currently they’re renovating the Mont Blanc store at a lead it’s about 5000 square feet this pop-up space I’m sure Brunello will take it. I mean, I’m just guessing. So don’t don’t hold me to that anyone but and then Chanel is actually going to annex. So Chanel is about 4000 square feet. I think that concession and Holt Renfrew it’s going to take that Brunello space and annex that so it’s already going to be quite big on the ground floor. But here’s the kicker. Chanel is also going to take I think the women’s contemporary area upstairs Holt Renfrew, as well. So it’s gonna be like, I don’t know, between 12 and 15,000 square feet. It’ll be just an obnoxiously large concession for Chanel, it’ll probably take 15% of the entire retail square footage of the whole store. So I think that’s fascinating.
Lee Rivett 8:33
Yeah, me too. And thank you for going through the popular article of the new construction that’s happening in Yorkdale. With this new luxury run, looking forward to seeing how it unfolds and chat. We’ll see you next week, Craig,
Craig Patterson 8:44
Thank you so much, everyone for listening. Take care and bye for now.
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