Why Competitors Must Take Nordstrom Seriously in Canada

Date:

Share post:

On Friday, September 18, Nordstrom opened its first Canadian flagship location. The 230,000 square foot Vancouver CF Pacific Centre store features substantially more luxury brands and amenities than its first two Canadian locations. Experts are now saying that Nordstrom’s heightened luxury experience in Canada could result in a meaningful shift in Vancouver luxury market share to Nordstorm, and we discussed the topic with two of Canada’s top retail experts.

Nordstrom’s flagship brand selection is particularly strong in the categories of women’s ready-to-wear, women’s handbags, and women’s footwear. The store carries an exceptional selection of luxury brands and in some instances, has opened individually branded hard-shops, placing it squarely in competition with nearby Holt Renfrew and to a lesser extent, Hudson’s Bay diagonally across the street. In fact, most luxury brands carried at Nordstrom are also carried at Holt’s and in some instances, Hudson’s Bay’s luxury department The Room. For reference, we recently provided a full list of brands carried at Vancouver’s Nordstrom, as well as a full list of services and amenities (which are also exceptional). 

We discussed Nordstrom’s new flagship with both the President and the CEO of leading retail consultancy HRC Advisory, who both attended last Wednesday’s Vancouver opening gala with a team of their consultants. They described the store as “an incredible addition” to the Canadian retail scene.


 
Antony Karabus, HRC Advisory’s CEO said that he believes this store will quickly become “a real and serious luxury competitor in Vancouver”, pointing out that Nordstrom’s CF Pacific Centre flagship features a meaningful broadening of its focus to include a serious luxury component including key amenities and customer service which will be attractive to luxury shoppers who currently have few comparable alternatives. He noted that the store’s personal shopping suites will be attractive to affluent shoppers, as are services such as a concierge, personal shopping, stylists and delivery services. The coffee shop, restaurant and bar area will also draw a wider variety of shoppers with its bright, upbeat environment and exceptional customer service, signalling a “game changer” for Vancouver’s retail scene. Mr. Karabus concluded by saying that he wouldn’t be surprised if Nordstrom’s Vancouver store became one of the chain’s top locations within a short period of time. 

Farla Efros, President of HRC Advisory, went on to explain how Nordstrom has created a compelling roster of brands at its new Vancouver flagship, and how its lighting, shelving, displays and shops-in-stores creates an appealing environment for a variety of demographics. She expressed how Nordstrom’s gala fashion show provided an introduction to the company’s increased focus on luxury brands, and how the new Vancouver flagship is evidence that Nordstrom is in Canada for the long-term.

In the Vancouver Nordstrom store, handbag shop-in-stores feature brands Céline, Saint Laurent Paris, Valentino, Balenciaga, Delvaux, Burberry, Loewe and Chloé. Other pricey handbag lines include MCM, Jimmy Choo, WANT Les Essentials de la Vie and Stella McCartney. This selection is remarkable and considerably broader than what’s available at Nordstrom’s Calgary and Ottawa stores. Furthermore, Holt Renfrew carries several of these brands, including Valentino, Balenciaga, Burberry, Chloé, MCM and Stella McCartney — with only Burberry featuring an in-Holt’s shop-in-store. Nordstrom’s brand exclusive Delvaux (a luxe Belgian brand) is an exceptional score and it’s remarkable that Holt Renfrew didn’t secure the brand when it had the chance. 

Nordstrom Vancouver’s selection of women’s designer ready-to-wear brands is also exceptional, as is its lineup of six shop-in-stores. Boutiques for Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Céline and Valentino line the perimeter of the store’s upscale Collectors designer department, which also features luxury brands Loewe, Milly, Missoni, Prabal Gurung, Anthony Vaccarello, Carolina Herrera, Carven, Jason Wu, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Proenza Schouler, St. John Knits and Zac Posen. Of the boutiques listed above, all designers are carried at Holt Renfrew and none in shop-in-stores. Holt’s also carries Carven, Marc Jacobs and Oscar de la Renta in its Vancouver store and furthermore, Vancouver’s Hudson’s Bay’s ‘The Room’ features Prabal Gurung, Carven, Jason Wu, and Proenza Schouler. Despite the crossover, Holt Renfrew and Hudson’s Bay carry a variety of top brands not carried at Nordstrom, making one question if Vancouver could soon become oversatured with luxury brands. 

Nordstrom Vancouver’s women’s footwear selection is exceptional, with its Salon Shoes department anchored by a Christian Louboutin boutique — Canada’s second. Holt Renfrew also carries Louboutin and some speculate that it intended to open separate men’s and women’s Louboutin shop-in-stores, as Holts plans to do in its Yorkdale Shopping Centre store in Toronto. Nordstrom also carries top brands including Alexander McQueen, Alexander Wang, Balenciaga, Charlotte Olympia, Fendi, Salvatore Ferragamo, Jimmy Choo, Lanvin, Manolo Blahnik, Miu Miu, Prada and Valentino. Holt Renfrew carries all of these, while Hudson’s Bay’s ‘The Room’ carries Charlotte Olympia in Vancouver. 

Holt Renfrew still carries Vancouver’s broadest selection of luxury brands across all categories, including mainstream staples such as Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana and others. The 150,000 square foot store is expanding by 40,000 square feet and by the end of 2016, it will be almost as large as Nordstrom, measuring almost 190,000 square feet. Holt Renfrew’s Vancouver location currently sees sales close to $150 million according to sources, and one questions if Holt’s can maintain these sales numbers if Nordstrom Pacific Centre does $200 million+ in annual revenues that some analysts are already predicting. Harry Rosen’s “very strong relationships with generations of luxury male shoppers and the company’s extensive store remodeling investments will likely protect its market share,” according to Mr. Karabus. 

Hudson’s Bay’s The Room also features an exceptional roster of luxury designers, though somewhat less mainstream than that of neighbouring Holt Renfrew. Time will tell how Hudson’s Bay fares in Vancouver in light of increasing competition, particularly given its dated interiors in some departments (and its elevators) and overall lacklustre customer service when compared to Nordstrom and Holt’s.  

Canada’s luxury department store wars will especially heat up next February when Saks Fifth Avenue opens its first Canadian locations in Toronto. Saks’ Canadian locations will carry a wide range of luxury brands and sources already confirm that the Toronto CF Eaton Centre Queen Street flagship will feature brands Lanvin and Givenchy for women, as well as DSquared2 and Isaia for men. A number of vendors, including some of the world’s top brands, have asked us to delay revealing that they’ll be carried at Saks for now, and we’ll respect that request. Saks’ Canadian stores will also provide personal shopping and its Fifth Avenue Club, which it describes as an “intimate shopping service that will provide a personal shopper who will travel to your home or office with merchandise specifically selected for you, including, but not limited to beauty, styling and tailoring”. Saks confirms that it could open as many as two Vancouver-area stores, and sources speculate that both could locate in suburban shopping centres.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Is there any plans to expand and deepen the designer menswear mix at Nordstrom Pacific Centre? It also makes me wonder about the longterm viability of a store like Leone and Boboli as well.

    • Excellent question. If the demand is there, Nordstrom could consider carrying more men’s designers though in the U.S., Nordstrom’s men’s designer selection isn’t nearly as comprehensive as what’s available for women. As for Leone and Boboli, we hope they succeed amid increasing competition for luxury spenders in Vancouver.

  2. An advertisement in last month’s Vancouver Magazine bid farewell from the owners of Leone – as they had sold the store and were focussing on Ryu sportswear

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More From Retail Insider

Iconic Flo’s Diner in Toronto’s Yorkville Forced to Close After 33 Years Amid Landlord Dispute 

Retail Insider interviewed Flo’s co-owner who discusses the “heart wrenching” situation where he is being forced to close his business that began on Bellair Street in 1991.

Anatomy of a Leader: Teresa Spinelli, Owner of Alberta-Based Italian Centre Shop Ltd.

Spinelli discusses her leadership of the popular retailer which has expanded over the years, describing how she struggled to run the company at first and grew to love it.

Upscale Canadian Fashion Brand SMYTHE Expands with New Standalone Calgary Store [Interview/Photos]

It's the second store location for the Toronto-based brand, which is seeing success with its exclusive womenswear collections.

Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens Hits Sales Milestone with Exciting Retail Growth and Future Plans [Interview]

The shopping centre is adding new retailers as sales per square foot hit an all-time high, with plans to re-tenant Nordstorm as foot traffic grows following Eataly's opening in the mall a few months ago.

ECS Coffee Opens Canada’s Largest Coffee and Espresso Equipment Gear Showroom and Retail Space in Toronto [Interview]

The new Etobicoke location is unique to Canada if not North America, according to its founder, with coffee roasting, equipment showroom, over 500 varieties of coffee, Youtube studio and various in-store experiences. He has plans to expand the concept nationally.

New Loblaws City Market Opens in Vancouver’s ‘The Post’ Building, Adding Grocery Competition to the Downtown Core [Podcast]

Craig and Lee discuss the opening of a new Loblaws City Market in downtown Vancouver's renovated Post building, and they explore its potential impact on local grocery shopping.

Loblaw Announces $2 Billion Investment in Canada for 2024 with Dozens of New Stores and 7,500 New Jobs [Expert Comment]

The retail behemoth will be growing substantially this year, following backlash over profits as inflation continues to impact Canadians.

Dubai-Based Asian Street Food Concept ‘Wok Boyz’ Expands into Canada with Plans for Multiple Locations [Interview]

The company's founder says the popular concept, with personalized meals, has an opportunity to grow substantially with its high-quality ingredients and theatrical flare, complete with fiery customer-facing woks.

Calgary Surge Basketball Team Launches Innovative Pop-Up at CF Chinook Centre to Boost Community Engagement [Interview]

The retail activation, which opened this month, is resulting in heavier foot traffic in a quieter part of the mall.

Upscale Pusateri’s Fine Foods to Close Yorkville Grocery Store in Toronto After 20 Years

The 5,500 square foot store opened to much fanfare in 2003, with valet parking, private chefs and pricey goods. 

Loblaw and Walmart Could be Forced to Adhere to Grocery Code of Conduct with Legislation [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that it's rare for all of Canada's political parties to agree, signalling a shift that could force grocers to comply amid record inflation.

Factory Direct to Shut All 14 Stores Amid Bankruptcy, Liquidation to Begin Saturday

The company, founded in 1995, is one of Canada’s largest privately owned discount retailers which struggled with declining sales and increasing costs following the pandemic.

What to Expect for the Canadian Retail and Hospitality Sectors in 2024 [Video Interview]

Michael Kehoe provides an expansive overview of what's expected for Canada's retail industry in 2024, and how the commercial real estate industry is becoming more dynamic than ever.

Anatomy of a Leader: David Lui, CEO of Kit and Ace and Co-Founder of Unity Brands

Lui has an extensive background in retail with over 30 years of experience and is known for his award-winning brand transformations, e-commerce and digital knowledge along with his passion for scaling businesses.

Robotic Retail Gaining Traction in Canada, But Some Consumers are Being Left Behind [Op-Ed]

Automated retailers without in-store staff are opening across Canada, such as Aisle 24, RC Coffee and PizzaForno -- but consumers without smart phones, credit cards, or with vision issues may not be able to access these retailers says a researcher.

Oakridge Park Announces 1st Luxury Retailers, Attracting Top Brands to Vancouver [Podcast]

Craig and Lee discuss the latest Oakridge Park announcement, highlighting the addition of luxury and upper contemporary brands to Vancouver's retail landscape and how it will impact downtown.

Interview on What it Takes: Lee Valley Tools Named Top Retailer in Ontario for Customer Service

The company's COO Jason Tasse discusses the retailer's secret sauce for having an engaged workforce, while also discussing plans to expand with more stores and retail concepts.

Survey Data Shows Canadians will Prioritize Romance Over Budget Cuts This Valentine’s Day [Interviews]

David Litwin of Moneris notes that Valentine's is an interesting bellwether for what businesses might expect from consumers for the rest of the year.

Anine Bing to Open 2nd Canadian Storefront at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto 

The US-based women’s fashion brand recently opened its first Canadian store at Yorkdale, and will open its second location in a downtown luxury hotel. 

Retail Burnout Crisis in Canada: The Call for Empathetic Leadership and Proactive Solutions Amid Operational Strains [Feature]

It's never been more difficult to work in retail, with store managers burning out amid lower staffing numbers, increased task and store robberies. Two industry experts discuss the situation.

RECENT RETAIL INSIDER VIDEOS

Advertisment

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Subscribe

* indicates required

RECENT articles

Iconic Flo’s Diner in Toronto’s Yorkville Forced to Close After 33 Years Amid Landlord Dispute 

Retail Insider interviewed Flo’s co-owner who discusses the “heart wrenching” situation where he is being forced to close his business that began on Bellair Street in 1991.

Anatomy of a Leader: Teresa Spinelli, Owner of Alberta-Based Italian Centre Shop Ltd.

Spinelli discusses her leadership of the popular retailer which has expanded over the years, describing how she struggled to run the company at first and grew to love it.

Upscale Canadian Fashion Brand SMYTHE Expands with New Standalone Calgary Store [Interview/Photos]

It's the second store location for the Toronto-based brand, which is seeing success with its exclusive womenswear collections.

Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens Hits Sales Milestone with Exciting Retail Growth and Future Plans [Interview]

The shopping centre is adding new retailers as sales per square foot hit an all-time high, with plans to re-tenant Nordstorm as foot traffic grows following Eataly's opening in the mall a few months ago.

ECS Coffee Opens Canada’s Largest Coffee and Espresso Equipment Gear Showroom and Retail Space in Toronto [Interview]

The new Etobicoke location is unique to Canada if not North America, according to its founder, with coffee roasting, equipment showroom, over 500 varieties of coffee, Youtube studio and various in-store experiences. He has plans to expand the concept nationally.

New Loblaws City Market Opens in Vancouver’s ‘The Post’ Building, Adding Grocery Competition to the Downtown Core [Podcast]

Craig and Lee discuss the opening of a new Loblaws City Market in downtown Vancouver's renovated Post building, and they explore its potential impact on local grocery shopping.

Loblaw Announces $2 Billion Investment in Canada for 2024 with Dozens of New Stores and 7,500 New Jobs [Expert Comment]

The retail behemoth will be growing substantially this year, following backlash over profits as inflation continues to impact Canadians.

Dubai-Based Asian Street Food Concept ‘Wok Boyz’ Expands into Canada with Plans for Multiple Locations [Interview]

The company's founder says the popular concept, with personalized meals, has an opportunity to grow substantially with its high-quality ingredients and theatrical flare, complete with fiery customer-facing woks.

Calgary Surge Basketball Team Launches Innovative Pop-Up at CF Chinook Centre to Boost Community Engagement [Interview]

The retail activation, which opened this month, is resulting in heavier foot traffic in a quieter part of the mall.

Upscale Pusateri’s Fine Foods to Close Yorkville Grocery Store in Toronto After 20 Years

The 5,500 square foot store opened to much fanfare in 2003, with valet parking, private chefs and pricey goods. 

Loblaw and Walmart Could be Forced to Adhere to Grocery Code of Conduct with Legislation [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that it's rare for all of Canada's political parties to agree, signalling a shift that could force grocers to comply amid record inflation.

Factory Direct to Shut All 14 Stores Amid Bankruptcy, Liquidation to Begin Saturday

The company, founded in 1995, is one of Canada’s largest privately owned discount retailers which struggled with declining sales and increasing costs following the pandemic.

What to Expect for the Canadian Retail and Hospitality Sectors in 2024 [Video Interview]

Michael Kehoe provides an expansive overview of what's expected for Canada's retail industry in 2024, and how the commercial real estate industry is becoming more dynamic than ever.

Anatomy of a Leader: David Lui, CEO of Kit and Ace and Co-Founder of Unity Brands

Lui has an extensive background in retail with over 30 years of experience and is known for his award-winning brand transformations, e-commerce and digital knowledge along with his passion for scaling businesses.

Robotic Retail Gaining Traction in Canada, But Some Consumers are Being Left Behind [Op-Ed]

Automated retailers without in-store staff are opening across Canada, such as Aisle 24, RC Coffee and PizzaForno -- but consumers without smart phones, credit cards, or with vision issues may not be able to access these retailers says a researcher.

Oakridge Park Announces 1st Luxury Retailers, Attracting Top Brands to Vancouver [Podcast]

Craig and Lee discuss the latest Oakridge Park announcement, highlighting the addition of luxury and upper contemporary brands to Vancouver's retail landscape and how it will impact downtown.

Interview on What it Takes: Lee Valley Tools Named Top Retailer in Ontario for Customer Service

The company's COO Jason Tasse discusses the retailer's secret sauce for having an engaged workforce, while also discussing plans to expand with more stores and retail concepts.

Survey Data Shows Canadians will Prioritize Romance Over Budget Cuts This Valentine’s Day [Interviews]

David Litwin of Moneris notes that Valentine's is an interesting bellwether for what businesses might expect from consumers for the rest of the year.

Anine Bing to Open 2nd Canadian Storefront at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto 

The US-based women’s fashion brand recently opened its first Canadian store at Yorkdale, and will open its second location in a downtown luxury hotel. 

Retail Burnout Crisis in Canada: The Call for Empathetic Leadership and Proactive Solutions Amid Operational Strains [Feature]

It's never been more difficult to work in retail, with store managers burning out amid lower staffing numbers, increased task and store robberies. Two industry experts discuss the situation.