Holt Renfrew to Create 190,000 Square Foot Pacific Centre Showpiece

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Holt Renfrew will substantially expand its Vancouver Pacific Centre flagship, creating a 190,000 square foot showpiece by annexing adjacent retailers. Holt’s will expand existing departments, including a new men’s store with its own street entrance. Glen Korstrom at Business in Vancouver recently interviewed Holt Renfrew president Mark Derbyshire, and some of those details are provided in this article. 

Construction on the store’s overhaul will begin in August, with an expected completion date in late 2016. Holt Renfrew won’t confirm the cost of the expansion. The Vancouver store will be slightly larger than Holt’s Bloor Street flagship, which measures about 185,000 square feet in size. 

Holt’s will gain about 40,000 square feet by annexing the adjacent FGL Sports-owned Sport Chek and Atmosphere stores. As a result, Holt Renfrew will be able to expand its current 25,000 square foot men’s store by about 20,000 square feet, creating a space with its own separate entrance onto Howe Street. Holt Renfrew has increased its focus on menswear, having recently opened a free-standing men’s store on Toronto’s Bloor Street West. The new men’s store will be branded as Holt Renfrew Men, as is the Bloor Street location. 

Sport Check will relocate to a 50,000 square foot retail space at the southeast corner of Robson Street and Howe Street, currently occupied by a Chapters Bookstore. 

Mr. Derbyshire told Mr. Korstrom that a 3,500 square foot, 80 seat licensed Holt’s Café will locate above the new men’s store, with windows overlooking Howe Street. The rest of the annexed retail space will be utilized to expand Holt’s ground-floor, which currently houses cosmetics, accessories, leathergoods and jewellery. 

Remarkably, the store will gain a second atrium as part of the expansion, making the store appear even more massive. According to Holt Renfrew, both atriums will be used to showcase “world-renowned visual installations.”

Until January, Holt’s housed a franchised ground-floor salon and spa, with windows facing onto Dunsmuir Street. Sources at Holt’s say that the retailer may dedicate some of that space to a massive Chanel boutique, complete with a dedicated Dunsmuir Street entrance. Sources say that Holt Renfrew may have done this on the condition that Chanel abandon plans to open a free-standing unit in Vancouver’s nearby ‘Luxury Zone‘. Mr. Derbyshire would not confirm details of the speculated Chanel boutique with Mr. Korstrom. 

Mr. Derbyshire also said that the store’s women’s footwear department will triple in size, as will women’s handbags. The Vancouver footwear salon will be about 10,000 square feet and if Holt’s Yorkdale location may act as precedent, Vancouver’s footwear salon could see shops-in-stores for brands such as Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnkik and Christian Louboutin. Handbags and leathergoods will expand to a whopping 30,000 square feet, the largest department of its kind in Canada. Sources speculate that Holt’s expanded handbags section will include several new shops-in-stores including a space dedicated to Italian luxury brand Miu Miu, which currently has locations within Holt’s Bloor Street and Yorkdale locations. A source at Holt Renfrew says that the store’s current ground floor Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci and Dior concessions will all see new updated spaces.

The store’s already expansive jewellery department will expand by 50%. Current concessions include Tiffany & Co., David Yurman and Links of London

Mr. Derbyshire also said that the store’s current 16,000 square foot cosmetics department will be expanded by about 50%. The department boasts some cosmetics brands unavailable elsewhere in Vancouver. 

Holt’s third floor womenswear department is also set to expand. It currently houses Vancouver’s top selection of luxury brands, including shops for Tom Ford, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Gucci, as well as luxury brands such as Oscar de la Renta, Jil Sander, Marni, Piazza Sempione, Valentino, Pucci, Etro, Lanvin and others. Luxury ready-to-wear does exceptionally well at the store, with some brands seeing their highest Canadian sales in Vancouver. Sources say that Vancouver is currently the second-highest selling Holt’s location, though sales sometimes surpass that of the Bloor Street flagship, which is estimated to trade in excess of $150 million annually. The company’s Yorkdale unit, currently third in the chain in terms of sales, does an estimated $110 million over 120,000 square feet, according to industry sources. 

Holt Renfrew will introduce a 1,000 square foot luxury shopping ‘Apartment‘ to the fourth level of the Vancouver store, along with expanded personal shopping suites, spanning 7,000 square feet. The ‘Apartment’ will be a by-invitation private luxury salon, which has seen success at Holt’s Yorkdale location. Included with the Vancouver ‘Apartment’ will be an outdoor landscaped terrace. The store’s fourth level currently houses offices, storage and backroom activities. When the Vancouver store was built in 2007, the space was earmarked for a restaurant but the City of Vancouver denied its license because the space lacked a dedicated service elevator. 

Mr. Derbyshire confirmed that New York City-based Janson Goldstein will oversee Vancouver’s Holt’s expansion and renovation. Goldstein designed the current store which opened in 2007, which replaced a 68,000 square foot unit half a block south. Holt Renfrew first opened in Pacific Centre in 1975, in a space measuring approximately 45,000 square feet. At the time it was the company’s second-largest location, following Holt’s former 60,000 square foot flagship at 144 Bloor Street West in Toronto. 

Holt Renfrew is in the process of expanding and renovating its entire fleet of stores, spending in excess of $300 million to expand from about 800,000 square feet to about 1.2 million square feet. Holt’s will also expand its Calgary and Bloor Street locations, as well as build a new 122,000 square foot location at Square One in Mississauga. The Montreal location will shutter after Holt’s merges with nearby Ogilvy, creating an expanded 220,000 square foot flagship. 


Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Publisher & CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Advisor at the University of Alberta School Centre for Cities and Communities in Edmonton, former lawyer and a public speaker. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

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