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The Holt Renfrew flagship in Vancouver, as part of an ongoing top-to-bottom overhaul, has completed a renovation and expansion of its beauty hall, relocating and doubling the space to 16,000 square feet, adding luxury brands to the mix, and increasing services and staff.

There’s been wear and tear at the 181,000-square-foot flagship, though the makeover strives to update the setting and help solidify Holt’s home-court advantage in the face of increasing competition from U.S. chains crossing the border, in particular Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom.

Business at Holt Renfrew and other upscale department and specialty stores in North America has been tough. However, Holt Renfrew is owned by the Selfridges Group, which is controlled by the Weston family, which has deep pockets to invest in store upgrades and expansions.

Beauty attained additional space by moving from the main floor to the lower level and through Holt’s ability to take over some space from two stores that vacated CF Pacific Centre, where Holt is located. It’s highly visible from the store’s central atrium and has 29 distinct counters and nine private cabines, providing facial and skin-care treatments by appointment.

Here, Mario Grauso, president of Holt Renfrew since September, discusses the beauty floor as well as plans for the continued renovation of the Vancouver flagship. Janson Goldstein designed the store, which opened in 2007, and is designing the renovations. The renovation of the Vancouver store, said to be neck-in-neck in volume with Holt’s Toronto flagship on Bloor Street, is expected to be complete in early 2018.

WWD: What’s been the main challenge and objectives in the renovation project?

Mario Grauso: One challenge was to maintain and enhance the energy that beauty brought to our street level, and ensure beauty customers felt connected to the rest of the store.…The new area feels very central to the store and offers a constant buzz of activity and excitement that resonates throughout all floors.

WWD: Any brands added or dropped?

M.G.: There are 29 unique brand counters in the new beauty hall, offering an enhanced experience due to the expanded space and unique design elements of each. In terms of newness, we added Sulwhasoo, created an amazing shop for Christian Louboutin Beauté exclusive to Holts in Canada, and other brands include Knesko and 111 Skin. In the world of fragrance we have homes for Diptyque, Frédéric Malle, By Kilian, Hermès and more. We are fully equipped to offer our beauty clients the ultimate luxury experience, with nine skin-care cabines. La Mer, Sisley, La Prairie, Clé de Peau, Chantecaille and Dior all have their own dedicated cabines for luxury private facial treatments. We have added 35 positions across beauty.

The renovated beauty floor at Holt Renfrew, Vancouver.  EVAAN KHERAJ

WWD: What makes the floor distinctive?

M.G.: It is an architecturally beautiful space, flooded with natural light from the central atrium of the store, with wide marble aisles throughout. Each of our 29 counters was designed in collaboration with our designers and the individual brands, resulting in unique brand statements true to their DNA, but resonating as a uniquely Holt Renfrew experience. The beauty floor is visible two floors up from our busy designer and shoe floor, and from the main leather goods and jewelry area. It connects with our men’s floor and we’ve strategically placed cosmetic brands at the adjacency point that would resonate across the aisle: Tom Ford, Creed, Kiehl’s, for example, making the space truly interactive and welcoming.

WWD: What’s next for the flagship, in terms of renovations?

M.G.: The renovation and expansion under way is the continuation of [Janson Goldstein’s] chic modernist architectural vision. Virtually all areas of the store are being reimagined. We acquired an additional 40,000 square feet last year by incorporating space from the departure of two stores in Pacific Centre and opened new shops for Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, David Yurman and Holt Renfrew Men, as well as a Holts Café. We have opened a new 8,000-square-foot women’s footwear hall, a multilevel personal shopping area that features six suites and The Apartment [for parties, trunk shows and personal wardrobing.] We are in the process of completing a new women’s designer area, including new shops for Fendi, and Brunello Cucinelli, and upcoming shops for Burberry, Miu Miu and Alaïa. On the main floor, a new Gucci handbag area has just opened, with Prada coming later this month. Toward fall, we will complete a luxury leather goods expansion including new shops for Dior, Céline, Fendi, Balenciaga and Loro Piana. In fine jewelry, Bulgari will come soon on the main floor as the centerpiece of a total refurbishment of our accessories offering.

The renovated beauty floor at Holt Renfrew, Vancouver.  EVAAN KHERAJ