Italian luxury brand Gucci has unveiled a large and impressive ‘world of’ concession at Holt Renfrew’s downtown Calgary store. The concession is located on the main floor of Holts, and houses a full range of fashions for women and men from the brand which is investing heavily into Canada with new and expanded stores.
The Calgary Holts Gucci concession spans about 4,000 square feet, and replaces areas formerly occupied by Burberry and Miu Miu. The bright Gucci space houses the brand’s range of ready-to-wear for men and women as well as bags, accessories, footwear and other categories. The “all in one space” concept is also found in other Holts stores in Canada, and is rarely seen in larger stores in the United States.
The new Calgary Gucci features a unique design, with light wood walls featuring shelving for product. Brown herringbone flooring is criss-crossed with a white checkerboard design. Plush carpeting contrasts with silver metal fixtures. The boutique features a white marble facade similar to other newer Gucci stores worldwide.
Gucci had a presence at Holts in Calgary in separate boutique areas that have since been amalgamated into the new main floor ‘world of’ concession. That included a smaller main floor hand bag concession, a second floor women’s clothing concession, and a third floor men’s concession.
There were rumours last year that Gucci was in talks to open at Calgary’s CF Chinook Centre. It’s less likely that the brand would open in the mall now that Gucci has such an expansive presence downtown. That hasn’t stopped brands from moving to CF Chinook in the past however — in the fall of 2018 Louis Vuitton exited the downtown Holts and opened a large store in the mall. Tiffany & Co. also operates both downtown at Holts as well as at CF Chinook Centre.
Despite the success of CF Chinook Centre, Holt Renfrew has remained in downtown Calgary. Retail Insider reported in February of 2023 that Holts had renewed its lease at The CORE, a downtown shopping centre spanning several blocks. CF Chinook Centre began adding luxury retailers such as Tiffany & Co. and Burberry about a decade ago, then scoring Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue as anchors. Nordstrom has since exited Canada, and Saks in Calgary appears to be on its last legs. One wonders if Holt Renfrew is second-guessing its decision to renew its lease downtown, given the opportunity to be in the highly productive CF Chinook Centre which now has a vacant 140,000 square foot box.
The Calgary Gucci concession is the second store in Alberta for the brand. Gucci opened a 5,000 square foot store at West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton in the spring of 2021. The store is said to be exceeding expectations in terms of sales. The Edmonton store does not carry ready-to-wear, however, despite its vast size. Footwear and handbags sell very well in Edmonton, and the brand could bring in more clothing in the future.
Gucci has been investing heavily into the Canadian market since just before the pandemic. In the summer of 2019, Gucci opened an impressive 6,000 square foot concession at Holts’ Yorkdale location in Toronto, functioning like a standalone Gucci storefront save for an entrance into Holt Renfrew (while paying rent to Holts). Gucci also renovated its 6,000 square foot store at 130 Bloor Street in downtown Toronto in 2020. During the pandemic Gucci opened three concessions as part of the new Holt Renfrew Ogilvy (bags/women’s/men’s) in Montreal. Gucci recently overhauled and expanded its Vancouver location at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, bringing it to 6,200 square feet on one retail level.
The brand has confirmed that it will open an 8,700 square foot store at Royalmount in Montreal in August of 2024. Gucci also has further significant future plans for the Vancouver and Toronto markets, which will be discussed at a future date.
Gucci had a handbag concession at Nordstrom CF Toronto Eaton Centre until last spring, when it was forced to close as part of Nordstrom’s exit from Canada. The brand also has a boutique concession at Holt Renfrew Square One in Mississauga for Gucci bags and footwear.
In terms of off-price retail, Gucci operates a large outlet store at Toronto Premium Outlets which opened in late 2018, coinciding with the closure of Gucci’s outlet store at Montreal Premium Outlets which operated for several years.
Historically, Gucci has had a presence in Canada for decades in Holt Renfrew. Between 1985 and 1987 when Gucci had a lower price-point, the brand had a bag and accessory boutique in the Hudson’s Bay flagship store in downtown Vancouver at 674 Granville Street as well as at Bay stores in Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal, and at then-HBC-owned Simpsons in downtown Toronto.
Gucci, owned by Kering Group, is one of the world’s leading luxury brands with billions of dollars in annual sales. Gucci was founded in 1921 and is now part of the Kering conglomerate of luxury brands. Gucci operates about 500 stores globally. In the United States, Gucci operates a network of standalone stores as well as boutique spaces in large-format/department stores such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, and Macy’s (Manhattan Herald Square store only).