Downtown Montreal’s Les Ailes de la Mode department store will reportedly close in February 2014. At one time, Les Ailes was described as Canada’s answer to Nordstrom. After a decline, Les Ailes is now essentially a large discount store. We expect that, once closed, the adjacent namesake mall Complexe Les Ailes will also change its name.
Downtown Montreal’s Les Ailes opened in August 2002. It was 223,000 square feet and occupied the lower four floors of a shuttered one-million square foot Eaton’s department store. Plenty of upscale designer labels were featured in-store. Les Ailes included a karaoke bar, art gallery, pottery-making studio, spa, a vodka bar, three restaurants and even featured an in-store piano player. The store employed over 1,000 staff and became known for its customer service. When it opened, downtown Montreal’s Les Ailes was expected to become the flagship location of a national (and possibly international) department store chain that would have been the Canadian equivalent to popular American retailer Nordstrom.
The company experienced financial problems as a result of the costs associated with opening this store, as well as an unsuccessful location in suburban Ottawa. In early 2004, the size of the downtown Montreal Les Ailes was reduced to about 77,000 square feet over two floors. The rest of the store’s space was configured into Complexe Les Ailes, the adjacent shopping centre.
The store’s owner, San Francisco Group, went bankrupt in 2003. After emerging from bankruptcy a year later, the Group was renamed Groupe Les Ailes de la Mode. The company was sold to Fairweather INC Group in 2005, which proceeded to further run the company into the ground.
Complexe Les Ailes is owned by landlord Ivanhoe Cambridge. We’re not sure what will happen with the department store space once it vacates, and we’ll update you when we learn of what will happen to Complexe Les Ailes. We suspect that once the mall’s anchor Les Ailes de la Mode leaves, the mall’s name will change as well.
A partial source for this article is this article, in French, by Marie-Eve Fournier of La Presse.
[Les Ailes de la Mode website (currently “under construction”)]