By Craig Patterson and Maxime Frechette
Montreal-based men’s fashion retailer Ernest has unveiled a new store concept after filing for creditor protection last month. The new storefront at the Montreal Eaton Centre is a refresh of the brand which is expected to be rolled out into other locations.
The Montreal Eaton Centre Ernest location spans just under 2,500 square feet and features high ceilings in an airy space with wood accents and a contemporary feel. The store is located on the street level of Montreal Eaton Centre next to the recently opened Samsung and facing a new concept Pandora store as well as Uniqlo which opens on October 23.
Men will find a wide range of suits as well as sportswear and footwear. Tailoring is available with Ernest’s personalized customer service. The store features a wall dedicated to shirts.
The new store’s location is intended to be closer to the office towers of downtown Montreal, which are beginning to see some workers return. Ernest had two stores downtown further west, including a unit operating at 1199 Sainte-Catherine Street West a couple of blocks from the recently completed Holt Renfrew Ogilvy store. The future of the 1199 Sainte-Catherine storefront is uncertain — Ernest says that it is still in negotiations with the landlords and that it will most likely close as the lease expires amid a challenging retail environment. Foot traffic is also said to be a concern given construction on Ste-Catherine Street.
Foot traffic from the Time Out Market food hall was another attraction to the Montreal Eaton Centre according to an Ernest representative. The Market opened in November of 2019 and is expected to again be a traffic generator following COVID-19 mandated shutdowns in Quebec.
Earnest filed for creditor protection in September and used the opportunity to renegotiate some leases. The company has 40 stores (33 branded as Ernest, six under the Jonathan banner and one under the Anthony banner, all of which are located in the province of Quebec except for one unit in Moncton, New Brunswick. No jobs were lost with the filing and only one store on Ste-Catherine Street in Montreal shuttered as a result.
The retailer says that it is holding off on future expansion plans for the time being as it watches the industry and COVID-19. In a more favourable time, Ernest could expand into the Ontario market.
Ernest was founded in 1958 in Montreal by Ernest Iarrera with a store on Ste-Catherine Street East. The concept expand into Quebec Cit in 1991. The founder’s son and daughter now run the operations and Ernest is still family owned.