CF Chinook Centre in Calgary is one of the country’s busiest and most productive malls and it continues to evolve and change to meet the growing needs and desires of local and regional consumers.
Darren Milne, General Manager of Chinook, said there’s been quite a number of new tenants along with renovations and relocations in the past year.
“For some context, we have 240 tenants right now so to have 35 new, relocated or renovated tenants in a year is quite significant,” he said.
Here’s what’s happened since November 1, 2022:
- 12 new tenants: Athleta, Token, Stuffies, Herschel, Mejuri, Jo Malone, Glambar Bazaar, RW&Co, Nike, Alo Yoga, Crepe Delicious, and Uniqlo;
- 13 relocations with a new store build out: Bentley, Call it Spring, Peloton, Chatters, Birks, Pandora, Jack & Jones, Stitch It, Torrid, Victoria’s Secret, Maxime’s, Zumiez, Bell; and
- 7 renovations: Kiehls, Footlocker, L’Occitaine, Le Creuset, Michael Hill, Call it Spring, Burberry.
Still to come by the end of this year is Swatch as a new tenant, the opening of the new Zara expansion and renovation and a renovation at Ben Moss.
Recently the big buzz at Chinook has been the frenzy around the opening of the Uniqlo store on August 25.
“The response to Uniqlo has been huge. The day they opened as Uniqlo reported, they had 2,000 people in line. They had a lineup pretty much the entire day and so it was about a 90-minute wait to get into the store the entire day,” said Milne.
“That was the Friday and then even on the Saturday they still had a line for people to get in and their sales and traffic have been consistent ever since. It was really clear that Uniqlo was a tenant that Calgarians wanted to have and they obviously have been supporting them that well.”
Milne said there are a couple of reasons why so many new tenants are coming to Chinook.
“If you think about it in the context of COVID the industry as a whole saw a lot of bankruptcies. That was probably good in the sense that a lot of companies were able to clean up their balance sheets and then come out of bankruptcy in a stronger position,” he said. “We’ve been a beneficiary of them being the first choice for tenants when they want to come to Calgary.
“The second piece of that is not only are we the first choice but we’re having more national and international retailers who are expanding into Canada. So if you think about that, Alo Yoga making a move out of the U.S. into Canada. We were one of their first stores that they wanted to get open as well. And sometimes because we have such high occupancy we can’t always get the tenants in on the same timeline they want to be in. But we still generally find a way to have them here as a tenant.
“Uniqlo was the same. They wanted to be here earlier and we just needed to do a whole bunch of movement in order to create space for them. I think we’re just seeing a lot of demand for the Centre as a result of both the performance of the shopping centre and the fact that more retail companies are looking to do stores and either grow within Canada or come into Canada.”
Milne said sales productivity at Chinook over the past year has grown exponentially.
“It’s been really, really strong. In part I think because we’ve had all these new tenants and they are tenants who are in demand. In part because Calgarians specifically still have a good level of disposable income and are looking to come and do their shopping here. Traffic continues to move up and continues to be really strong as well,” he said. “Sales are outpacing traffic growth.
“We’re always thinking about what the future looks like in terms of sales and traffic but we still feel really positive about the Calgary market.”
Milne said the shopping centre expects, probably in the new year, to announce a couple of new tenants. Also in 2024, there will be more “right-sizing” of tenants with more relocations.
“When you start to look at just the economic impact of that construction, you think about the 35 stores that have been touched here in the last 12 months between new stores, renovations or relocations, the construction value is significant and the number of jobs that creates is significant. It’s really positive,” he said.
“I would say in the near term the next big launch at Chinook will be when Zara reopens. They’re expanding in place and almost doubling in size. So that’s going to be a big store that will be open here before the end of the year.”
With the departure of American retailer Nordstrom from the Canadian market, Chinook Centre like other major malls in the country suddenly had some huge vacant real estate space.
“Nordstrom just disclaimed the lease in late in July. So it’s only been a few months that we’ve actually known we were going to get the real estate back. So we’re actively planning for it. There’s nothing to announce on it yet but we’ll continue to push that forward and plan to have a tenant there that Calgarians are going to want,” said Milne.
“I don’t mean to sound like it’s one tenant or two but I think we’ve got some thoughts on what that could be. We just haven’t settled on a direction yet.”
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