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Two of Nordstrom’s 6 Flagships to be in Canada

Canada will soon be in the remarkable position of having a third of all of Nordstrom‘s downtown flagship locations. In keeping with the trend of global flagships being magnets for tourists, the Seattle-based retailer is in the process of creating six downtown showpieces. We spoke with retail expert Farla Efros, President of leading consulting firm HRC Advisory, to learn why Canada’s top two retail cities were chosen by Nordstrom for such prominent stores. 

New and renovated Nordstrom stores now feature more modern interiors. Photo Craig Patterson

Of the six flagship Nordstrom locations, three are existing and are currently being renovated, while three are currently under construction. Renovated locations will see brighter, modern interiors flooded with natural light, as well as new wood and terrazzo floors throughout. New food options will also be available on almost every floor of each store, from small cafes to full-service licensed restaurants. Nordstrom’s President of Stores, Jamie Nordstrom, revealed that the company is inspired by flagships such as Galeries Lafayette in Paris and Selfridges in London, and that the company is spending a fortune to renovate its own stores to reflect international flagship standards. 

In the United States, Nordstrom’s overhauled flagships will include the 383,000 square foot downtown Seattle flagship, the 350,000 square foot Westfield San Francisco Center store, and the 272,000 Michigan Avenue Chicago location at The Shops at Northbridge. All locations feature a variety of luxury brand concessions, with the Chicago store featuring Louis Vuitton and Christian Louboutin shops, for example. Mr. Nordstrom says that the company will spend $80 million to complete renovations of its Seattle flagship, as well as spend similar amounts on the other two stores. 

Christian Louboutin at Nordstrom, Chicago

A further three downtown Nordstrom flagships are currently under construction, two of them in Canada. The Vancouver flagship, located at Pacific Centre, will open on September 18 of this year. The Toronto Eaton Centre flagship will open in the fall of 2016. The Vancouver store will span about 230,000 square feet, while the Toronto flagship will measure about 213,000 square feet. In the United States, a 315,000 square foot seven-level Nordstrom store is currently under construction in Manhattan and after completion, it is expected to be the company’s top-selling location. 

Canada’s thriving downtowns partly explain Nordstrom’s choosing Toronto and Vancouver to house iconic flagships. We spoke with retail expert Farla Efros, President of leading retail consulting firm HRC Advisory, to learn more. Ms. Efros explained that these downtown flagships will serve tourists and locals, as well as downtown ‘wall street’ types who have substantial disposable income. As well, both Canadian cities feature established and productive urban retail centres, similar to the four American cities housing Nordstrom’s downtown flagships. 

Ms. Efros described how Toronto Eaton Centre benefits from its central location. The mall is steps away from attractions, thousands of hotel rooms, and it is easily accessible by subway. The mall hosts millions of visitors annually, including an increasing number of tourists, partly due to the low dollar. Given the substantial foot traffic and the fact that Hudson’s Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue‘s Canadian flagships will be in the same complex, it only makes sense that Nordstrom would create its own downtown Toronto showpiece. Furthermore, downtown Toronto is home to over 215,000 residents, many whom are young, educated, ambitious and fashion conscious. 

Ms. Efros also described the benefits of Nordstrom’s Pacific Centre location. The mall hosts some of the biggest names in fashion, as well as top-performing Holt Renfrew and Hudson’s Bay locations. Vancouver continues to see very strong tourist numbers from around the world and especially the Pacific Rim, and Pacific Centre is ‘ground zero’ for many of these shoppers. Downtown Vancouver has over 100,000 residents, some with relatively high discretionary incomes. As well, Vancouver is known to have a substantial number of wealthy people, including those with second homes in the city who visit regularly. Nordstrom may have also chosen Vancouver for a flagship, given its relatively short distance from Nordstrom’s Seattle headquarters.

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd.

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