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Holt Renfrew Ogilvy Opens All 6 Retail Levels in Montreal [Photos]

By Craig Patterson and Maxime Frechette

The massive Holt Renfrew Ogilvy store in downtown Montreal is nearly finished, with all six levels now open to the public. The 250,000-square-foot store is one of the largest multi-brand luxury stores in North America and is the largest showcase of luxury brands in the Montreal market. 

The store’s second, third, and fifth floors have opened, showcasing a range of women’s fashions, shopping suites and an entertainment facility. The street level luxury hall is also nearly completed with 11 luxury brands occupying leased concession boutiques. In the spring of 2019, a basement level cosmetics hall opened to the public, as did the menswear level on the fourth floor which carries many of the world’s biggest designer brands.

The store’s planned opening date was on April 10 of this year, and that was delayed because of COVID-19. Several of the store’s luxury boutiques have yet to open and will once construction is completed.  

The following is a photo tour of the new Holt Renfrew Ogilvy store in Montreal, floor-by-floor, beginning with the lower level beauty hall which spans about 23,000 square feet. Retail Insider reported on the beauty hall in the spring of 2019 when it opened, and photos of that retail level can be found in this article

THE CONCOURSE LEVEL BEAUTY HALL
THE CONCOURSE LEVEL BEAUTY HALL. MORE PHOTOS AND INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND IN OUR ARTICLE FROM 2019.

Main Floor Luxury Concession Hall

The street level luxury hall, with concessions that have been slowly opening over the past year, is nearly completed. Last year, boutiques for Tiffany & Co. (2,500 square feet), David Yurman (1,300 square feet), Bottega Veneta, Prada, and Chanel opened — the 3,300-square-foot, bi-level Chanel boutique carries a full range of ready-to-wear, as well as accessories, bags, and footwear. New boutique openings include Gucci, Louis Vuitton (3,342 square feet carrying bags, accessories and footwear), Hermes (2,848 square feet carrying a full range of apparel, bags, accessories and footwear), and Dior (1,938 square feet carrying women’s ready-to-wear, bags and accessories), with other bag/accessory boutiques including Saint Laurent and Fendi to soon join them. The large Louis Vuitton occupies the corner street-facing location at Rue de la Montagne, and Hermes occupies the southwest corner of the main floor. A concierge desk greets shoppers from the Rue de la Montagne entrance.

The main floor consists of 11 concessions that are operated by the luxury brands. Also included at the Ste-Catherine Street entrance is a pop-up space called L’espace Holt which acts as an incubator space featuring curated collections and limited-edition product from both local and international designers. First up is The Hat Shop, which is a nod to Holts’ heritage as the retailer began as a hat shop in 1837. The pop-up space will change each month.

Below is a slideshow of photos from the main floor of Holt Renfrew Ogilvy.

Below is a slideshow with photos of the new Hermes and Louis Vuitton boutiques on the main floor of Holt Renfrew Ogilvy.

Second Floor: Shoes, Bags, Jewellery, Contemporary Women’s Fashions, Restaurant

The newly-completed second floor features women’s footwear, bags and accessories, jewellery, contemporary fashions, and a restaurant. The footwear hall spans 4,632 square feet and includes a leased boutique concession for French luxury brand Christian Louboutin as well as boutique spaces for Gucci and Roger Vivier and a ‘wall’ for Manolo Blahnik — Prada, Dior, and Saint Laurent shops will soon join them. Other footwear brands include some of the world’s biggest names such as Valentino, Givenchy, and Jimmy Choo. 

The women’s leather goods area on the second level houses brands such as Saint Laurent, Loewe, Balenciaga, Givenchy, The Row, Longchamp, and others. Various jewellery brands on the second floor include Gucci, Queelin, Anito Ko, Suzanne Kalan, Sydney Evans, Repossi, and others. A private shopping salon for guests looking at jewellery is located in the department. Despite the size of the store overall, it was deemed that more space was needed for bags and jewellery on the second floor because brands leasing on the 40,000-square-foot street-level demanded larger spaces. 

Women’s contemporary brands on the second floor include Theory and Vince. Boss woman and Max Mara are also found on the second floor in boutique spaces as well as Akris Punto. 

A stunning new restaurant called Café Holt is also located on the second floor. The restaurant is described as using “quality-driven ingredients, locality, and seasonality”. Service times will include brunch and lunch, as well as afternoon tea and an expanded evening dinner service.

Below are photos of the second floor of Holt Renfrew Ogilvy. 

The photos below are of the vast women’s footwear hall at Holt Renfrew Ogilvy.

Below are photos of the new Café Holt. Further details including the menu can be found here.

Third Floor: Women’s Designer Brand Boutiques, H Project 

The newly-completed third floor is a showcase for some of the world’s biggest luxury brands for women. That includes boutique spaces for brands including Akris, Giorgio Armani, Brunello Cucinelli, Burberry, Balmain, Miu Miu, Prada, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Valentino, Givenchy, Gucci, Moncler, Play/Comme des Garcons, and a Canada Goose boutique will also open soon. Other women’s apparel brands include Bottega Veneta, The Row, Isabel Marant, Alexander McQueen, Marni, Rick Owens, Dries Van Noten, Thom Browne, Stella McCartney, Victoria Beckham, and others. Also on the third floor is a Wolford area and more contemporary fashion brands including GANNI and ba&sh. A dedicated space for H-Project, described as “connecting consumers, causes, and communities to inspire a new generation of purposeful luxury and drive positive change in the world,” is located on the third floor with a rotating product assortment.

Below are photos from the third floor of Holt Renfrew Ogilvy.  

ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST HIGHLY RESPECTED LUXURY FASHION APPAREL BRANDS FOR WOMEN, SWITZERLAND-BASED AKRIS, HAS A BOUTIQUE ON THE 3RD FLOOR AT HOLT RENFREW OGILVY. PHOTO: MAXIME FRECHETTE

Fourth Floor Menswear

The fourth floor men’s level, which was unveiled in the spring of 2019, houses 25 boutique concessions for some of the biggest luxury brands. That includes vendor shops for brands such as Balenciaga, Brioni, Burberry, Brunello Cucinelli, Dior, Givenchy, Gucci, Moncler, Prada, Saint Laurent, The Row, Tom Ford and Valentino which are showcased along the periphery. A Fendi men’s concession will open soon. Other well-known designer brands include Thom Browne, Balmain, Junya Watanabe, Comme des Garcons, Acne, and others. Recently added brands include Berluti, Isabel Marant, Dries Van Noten, and Rick Owens among others.

The floor’s multi-brand men’s suiting area features brands such as Ermenegildo Zegna, Canali, Eleventy, Isaia, Paul Smith, and others. 

The large men’s footwear salon on the same level includes many of the world’s leading luxury brands, as well as a Christian Louboutin concession and a dedicated Gucci area, both carrying expansive offerings.

A dedicated men’s grooming area includes shop areas for brands such as Creed, Hermés, Tom Ford, and Acqua di Parma. A dedicated men’s personal shopping suite offers styling services as well as privacy for clients. 

The men’s floor includes an entrance directly into the adjacent Four Seasons Hotel (and 18 super-expensive condominiums above it) which opened last year. Photos of the men’s floor can be found in our article from the spring of 2019

FOURTH FLOOR MEN’S LEVEL IN 2019. PHOTO: HOLT RENFREW

Fifth Floor Personal Shopping and Tudor Hall

The fifth floor of Holt Renfrew Ogilvy features impressive personal shopping suites in a space spanning 4,700 square feet. It’s the largest personal shopping offering in the chain according to Holt Renfrew. Included are five personal shopping suites as well as ‘The Apartment’, which is a luxurious salon featuring a seating area, dining room, salon, and dressing room. The space can be used for special events and trunk shows according to Holt Renfrew. 

The fifth floor also houses the historic Tudor Hall, a 300-seat music facility built in 1928, which has been refurbished. Photos of the fifth floor are below in a slideshow. 

Opening Holt Renfrew Ogilvy at this time could be good for the company. Montreal is home to many wealthy households who are known to shop globally for fashions. Given the lack of travel at the moment, some may be tempted to visit Holt Renfrew Ogilvy, and some could become loyal customers. At the same time, potentially fewer international students in Montreal could create a problem. Much of what has been sold recently in luxury boutiques and concessions in the city have been to students with access to a lot of money from abroad (The same goes for Toronto and Vancouver’s luxury brand retail, though some brands are reporting remarkably high sales through direct-to-client mobile messaging).

THE NOW CLOSED HOLT RENFREW STORE AT 1300 SHERBROOKE STREET WEST IN MONTREAL. PHOTO: MAXIME FRECHETTE

Holt Renfrew at 1300 Sherbrooke Street West Closes Permanently 

Montreal’s Holt Renfrew store, which operated nearby at 1300 Sherbrooke Street West since 1937, closed last month to coincide with the opening of the expanded Holt Renfrew Ogilvy store on Ste-Catherine Street. Selfridges Group, the parent company of Holt Renfrew, bought the 180,000-square-foot Ogilvy department store on Ste-Catherine Street in 2011 and subsequently announced that it would merge the two stores into one that would be named ‘Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’.

About a decade ago, Holt Renfrew proposed substantially expanding its Sherbrooke Street store to nearly 200,000 square feet by building upwards on the centre of the block while moving three historic townhome facades closer to the street. Ultimately the plans never came to fruition and a decision was made to relocate Holt Renfrew’s operations into the Holt Renfrew Ogilvy building down the street. 

Before it closed, the Sherbrooke Street Holt Renfrew store spanned about 75,000 square feet in multiple buildings including the original store on the corner, an expansion that includes three historic townhouse facades, and a component in a former theatre building. At one time Holts in Montreal extended the entire block along Sherbrooke Street to include menswear at the base of an office tower — the menswear annex space closed several years ago. In 1975, the Montreal Holt Renfrew store was the largest in the company with 34,000 square feet of retail space — the store at 60 Bloor Street West spanned about 32,000 square feet as did the new Vancouver store at CF Pacific Centre that opened that year. The large-format Holt Renfrew concept kicked off in 1979 with the opening of Holts’ 100,000 square foot three-level store in Toronto at 50 Bloor Street West. Today, Holt Renfrew’s Vancouver store spans more than 190,000 square feet, the Calgary store occupies about 150,000 square feet (including an unused 30,000 square foot fourth floor), the Square One store in Mississauga is nearly 140,000 square feet, the Yorkdale store in Toronto is about 130,000 square feet, and the Bloor Street flagship in Toronto occupies about 190,000 square feet with more than 30,000 square feet eventually earmarked for a retail expansion (coinciding with moving menswear back into the main store from its standalone 16,500 square foot location at 100 Bloor Street West).

Closing the Sherbrooke Street Holt Renfrew store marks an end of an era for the street which was once lined with luxury brands. In the 1980s, boutiques on Sherbrooke Street included names such as Cartier, Ungaro, Pratesi, Davidoff, Georg Jensen, Yves Saint Laurent, Polo Ralph Lauren, Versace, and others. Over the years Holt Renfrew itself operated boutiques facing the street including Giorgio Armani and until recently, Gucci, Hermes, and Prada boutiques had facades on Sherbrooke Street. Now, the only two remaining luxury brand stores on Sherbrooke Street include a Tiffany & Co. store at the Ritz Carlton Hotel facing the former Holt Renfrew store, as well as Escada which is located a block eastward. Given that the Sherbrooke Street Tiffany store opened in 2009 and Holt Renfrew Ogilvy now has its own boutique, Tiffany’s future on Sherbrooke Street is uncertain. Struggling Escada is said to be in a restructuring that could see some locations close — the exit of Tiffany and Escada would mark the end of Sherbrooke Street’s run as a luxury retail address after decades of being at the forefront of high-end shoppers in the region. 

The Ogilvy building itself has a storied past. Ogilvy once operated several stores in the Montreal market including its 1307 Ste-Catherine Street flagship which is now renamed Holt Renfrew Ogilvy. Ogilvy was known for its bagpiper and lavish Christmas window displays, both of which are now history. In the 1980s, Ogilvy shifted gears to become something of a hybrid shopping centre with boutiques within such as Escada, Laurel, Jean Muir, Karl Lagerfeld, Mondi, Nicole Miller, Joan & David, Ports International, Irving Samuels, Adrienne Vittadini, and many others. Toronto-based Chez Catherine also operated within Holt Renfrew Ogilvy for several years including boutique spaces for Versace and Krizia, as well as a main-floor Valentino boutique at the corner of Ste-Catherine and de la Montagne where Louis Vuitton is now located. Chez Catherine founder Catherine Hill passed away last month and a memorial was featured here in Retail Insider.

Montreal’s department store luxury retail offerings have changed significantly over the years. At one time, five well known stores offered luxury apparel for women. Holt Renfrew was by far the smallest on Sherbrooke Street West, with the 180,000 square foot Ogilvy store nearby also catering to affluent customers. Three large full-line department stores lined Ste-Catherine Street until the 1980s. Simpson’s, (in the building now occupied by La Maison Simons) once housed the Salon Vendome department featuring brands such as Giorgio Armani, Sonia Rykiel, Thierry Mugler, Romeo Gigli, and others. Further east was Eaton’s which in the 1980s featured designers such as Ungaro, Kenzo, Sonia Rykiel, Tiktiner, Escada, Oscar de la Renta, Halston and others in its Signature Shop. The Hudson’s Bay store, still operating on Ste-Catherine Street, once housed a Le Salon Collections department (the equivalent of The Mirror Room in other Bay stores) featuring designers such as Gianfranco Ferre, Givenchy Nouvelle Boutique, Missoni, Krizia, Ungaro and others. Today, Holt Renfrew Ogilvy remains supreme as the only large-format retailer of its kind to carry an expansive assortment of luxury brands in Montreal.

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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6 COMMENTS

  1. That first ground floor pic makes it look like a strata-titled mall.
    The upper floors look a lot more inviting.
    By the looks of it there isn’t an escalator atrium inviting shoppers with a glimpse of what’s upstairs?

  2. … it’s also a shame that they whitewashed the Tudor Hall.
    But the restaurant looks much nicer than their new Toronto restaurant.

    • Hi Ron, In fact the Tudor room was originally white it was repainted in brown in the 70’s, so this is only a discount to the original eta

  3.       An interesting report.  I'm feeling a little ambivalent due to the closure of the Sherbrooke Street store.  Combined with the other then existing boutiques, the adjacent Ritz-Carlton Hotel, and the Musée des Beaux Arts, I  remember that stretch of the street feeling so elegant as if it were a Montreal fusion of New York's Upper 5th and Upper Madison Avenues.  The Ross and Macdonald designed art deco portion of the store is an attractive landmark, and the townhouse facades next to it were stylishly incorporated into its expansion.  The former theatre and the bland office block next to it were more awkward, but the additional floor added during the last renovation helped to tie it together.  I hope the ensemble doesn't remain vacant too long and that at least the ground floor can keep its retail vocation.  It was an important anchor for Sherbrooke Street and the block of upscale establishments to the south along de la Montagne.  But considering the changed environment in retail now, merging with Ogilvy and joining the hoi polloi on Sainte Catherine was the only sensible decision Holt Renfrew could have made.  To provide the breadth of offering the company wants and to do the sort of business it hopes for, the square footage available on Montreal's most popular commercial strip was essential.
         The photos reveal a spacious, sleek, museum like aesthetic that one would expect in a posh emporium of prestige brands.  It definitely brings Montreal's retail offering up a few notches.  I especially like the way the windows have been exposed on the interior to let in natural daylight.  We've become so used to the windowless interiors of shopping mall boxes meant to make us forget about the outdoors.  In the city where you can see surrounding buildings instead of vast parking lots and highway ramps, this contributes to the vibrancy of the store and advertises its activity to the pedestrian parade on the sidewalks outside.  Another commenter here wondered if an escalator atrium had been built to draw attention upstairs (this was done at Saks on 5th Avenue in New York in it's own recent top-to-bottom makeover).  Judging from the photos, it doesn't seem so, but it looks like Holt's did that in reverse with a curving stairway cut out of the ground level to draw customers downstairs to the cosmetics and accessories extravaganza now in the lower level.
           With retail in transition, consumer spending in retrenchment, and coronavirus restrictions still in effect, this would seem to be the worst time to open a large, posh retail store.  There is the possibility that, as observed by Mr. Patterson, affluent Montrealers used to shopping for designer goods out of town will turn to Holt Renfrew Ogilvy, now that a full-range, local option is available.  Also, the company, having wittled itself down to only seven locations across Canada has competition in those other markets outside of Montreal; specifically Saks 5th Avenue and/or Nordstrom.  But the new Sainte Catherine Street location will utterly dominate its niche in a metropolitan area of over four million, at least until Carbonleo's much contested Royalmount project in suburban Ville Mount Royal gets off the ground.  The developer there is claiming to bring in high end retailers not yet in town.  We'll see.  Until then, good luck to Holt Renfrew Ogilvy.  The store looks beautiful.  Let's hope it'll be profitable too!
    
  4. I can only express my thoughts based on the pictures shown here. The old Ogilvie’s was a landmark in Montréal; Tudor hall, the piper, the Christmas window.

    I realize that we must move with the times but from what I can see (pictures only), the new Holt Renfrew Ogilvie building looks like every other modern concept retailer seen in every city. It lack character the old building had.

    Sorry, but we’re losing much of our heritage with the loss of Eaton’s, remodeling of the Henry Birk’s building and so many others. That said I wish you all the success possible.

    Georges R. Dupras

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