Holt Renfrew Closes Three Locations as it Embarks on $300 Million Expansion

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Over the weekend, Holt Renfrew closed three of its smaller locations. Yesterday (January 25) the luxury retailer closed its Ottawa and Quebec City stores and on Saturday, January 24, Holt’s shuttered its small Winnipeg shopping suite. Holt Renfrew will now focus on operating larger stores in a handful of Canadian cities, as it embarks on a $300 million expansion which will see its square footage increased by approximately 40%. 

Measuring only 33,000 square feet, Quebec City’s Holt Renfrew was located at the upscale suburban Place Ste-Foy shopping centre. Ottawa’s 36,000 square foot downtown Ottawa location was within the CD Howe Building at 240 Spark Street, and Holt’s 2,990 square foot downtown Winnipeg shopping suite (served by merchandise from other stores) was located within the struggling Portage Place shopping centre. 

Holt Renfrew was founded in Quebec City in 1837 and in the 1980’s had three locations in that city. Holt’s first opened in Place Ste-Foy in 1965. Holt Renfrew’s first Ottawa location opened in 1945 when the company acquired Simons Furs. Holt Renfrew’s first Winnipeg location opened in 1910 on Portage Avenue. 

Holt Renfrew is left with eight stores in five Canadian cities. Holt’s Vancouver flagship spans 140,000 square feet, with plans for a further expansion. Its Calgary store measures about 147,000 square feet, while its Toronto flagship measures over 180,000 square feet (excluding a separate 16,500 square foot men’s store up the street). Its Toronto Yorkdale store is about 120,000 square feet and its Square One Mississauga location, opening in 2016, will be about the same size. Holt’s 84,000 square foot Montreal location will close when a merged 220,000 square foot Ogilvy/Holt’s opens in 2017. 

Holt’s will also continue to operate two smaller locations. Company representatives say that its 33,670 square foot Sherway Gardens store in Toronto will remain open, as will its 35,000 square foot Edmonton Manulife Place store. Given that most Holt Renfrew stores will be in excess of 120,000 square feet, however, some analysts question the future of Holt’s Sherway and Manulife Place locations. Regarding Edmonton, Holt Renfrew president Mark Derbyshire said, “While its business as usual for Holt Renfrew Edmonton for now, we continue to explore options to expand our store presence in the Edmonton market.”

Analysts say that Holt’s focus on its larger and more productive locations is partly a response to Saks Fifth Avenue‘s intention to open as many as seven Canadian stores over the next several years, as well Nordstrom‘s intention to open up to 10 Canadian locations. Upscale menswear retailer Harry Rosen also continues to substantially upgrade its fleet of stores, including several replacement locations.

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, 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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  1. Winnipeg at one time was a larger, full line store. That failed to meet performance expectations and it converted to mainly a clearance location called "Last Call" with the small personal shopping service and cosmetic counter. The clearance outlet itself closed a number of years ago. The departure of Holt’s from downtown Winnipeg and their history in the city put up a large question mark for their future expansion to this city. It also posses a similar question for other retailers like Nordstroms and 5th Ave who might be considered operations in some form in Winnipeg.


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