Birks Investing in Stores Including Relocating CF Chinook Centre Location in Calgary [Interview]


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Birks Group has relocated its Maison Birks store to a bigger location in CF Chinook Centre in Calgary and the retailer has undertaken significant renovations at its CF Carrefour Laval store which will be unveiled later this spring.

New design features at Chinook Centre include an expanded square footage and a Rolex Showroom.

Birks is a leading Canadian retailer and designer of fine jewellery, timepieces and gifts since 1879. The company operates 23 Maison Birks stores across Canada, including flagship locations in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

Jean-Christophe Bédos

Jean-Christophe Bédos, President and CEO, Birks Group, said the retailer was already present at Chinook with a store that was doing very well. But an opportunity arose to relocate to a bigger site and much better positioned in the shopping centre for pedestrian traffic.

“We are in the luxury aisle and we wanted to be more luxury because we have obtained the distribution of Rolex watches on the condition of course that we would be on or close to the luxury aisle,” said Bédos.

Maison Birks at CF Chinook Centre
Maison Birks at CF Chinook Centre

The 4,174-square-foot Maison Birks store, developed by Optima Design, incorporates rich, dark wood tones, high ceilings and innovative lighting. The new store also includes a 1,117-square-foot Rolex Showroom with a VIP area. Floor to ceiling windows showcase the store’s offerings which includes Balmain, Birks, Breitling, Cartier, Qeelin, TAG Heuer, Tudor and Wolf. Chaumet fine jewellery and Longines watches, will unveil shop-in-shops in early spring. 

Birks’ own brand of fine jewellery, engagement rings and wedding bands is featured in a 803-square-foot shop-in-shop which celebrates the brand’s heritage and commitment to Canadian nature and landscape by incorporating light, warm wood tones.

Birks renovated its Calgary store in The CORE in the downtown as well as the Brinkhaus store in Calgary in 2021.

“So for us, investment in Calgary is a significant strategic decision that we made to actually have a strong presence in Alberta, specifically Calgary, because we believe that’s a great market for us,” said Bédos.

“After 63 years in the Calgary market, the relocation and expansion of the Maison Birks CF Chinook Centre store is an exciting new chapter for Birks Group Inc. We are thrilled to welcome clients to the new Rolex Showroom and to continue to enhance the shopping experience for our Calgary customers.”

BIRKS – TD Core Calgary (Image: BIRKS)
BIRKS – TD Core Calgary (Image: BIRKS)

Bédos said CF Carrefour Laval, just north of Montreal, is also under renovation.

“We do believe in the future of luxury in our country,” he said.

“We strongly believe that the long term for our business is very positive in Canada.”

Bédos said the Carrefour location is scheduled to be completed in April. It will have a Breitling Showroom.

BIRKS – TD Core Calgary (Image: BIRKS)

He said Birks has additional stores it wants to renovate as well as some markets it wants to enter.

“There is a significant shift in the consumer behaviour for luxury goods. We are closing markets and we are opening new markets. We definitely see that the market is growing and it’s an evolution that we have our thumb on that post to really be present where the consumer spending is growing,” explained Bédos.

“For Canada what’s happening our observation is that the Canadian market’s becoming more and more urban in the spending. Four or five major hubs, clusters of luxury. The cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are clearly growing for the market. We see significant investments in retail from international brands.

“We see also Alberta with Calgary and Edmonton becoming strong and those areas see a significant arrival of new Canadians and new residents who come from countries where the luxury brands are present and they expect those brands to be present in the markets where they decide to become residents in Canada.”

BIRKS – Brinkhaus (Image: BIRKS

Bédos said in the past what had been missing in Canada was the international calibre of the retail experience especially in downtown areas and top quality shopping centres.

With the macroeconomic tension at the moment with inflation and higher interest rates, business is not easy.

“But when you provide an experience which is worth it, worth going out of home, worth transacting somewhere else than just on the mobile phone or your desktop, this is what (retail expert) Doug Stephens called what the store has to offer more than just the website,” said Bédos.

“The people go out and enjoy it. You see the transformation of downtown Toronto with Yorkville and Bloor. Yorkdale is a great example. We see also the great example in Vancouver and Vancouver is going to soon have a new Oakridge store which is going to be a significant value proposition for consumers. People will go there. When there is something interesting, they go and shop.”

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.


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