Nordstrom, which today opened its sixth and possibly last full-line store in Canada, is halfway toward achieving its goal of building a $1 billion business in the country.
Nordstrom’s Canada expansion revs up again next spring, with the opening of its first three Nordstrom Rack off-price stores, in Vaughan Mills and One Bloor Street in Toronto and Deerfoot Meadows in Calgary. Three more are set for fall 2018 in The Ottawa Train Yards; South Edmonton Common and Heartland Town Centre in Mississauga.
“Overall, the consumer seems pretty healthy in Canada. We are getting market share and learning a lot,” said Jamie Nordstrom, executive vice president of Nordstrom Inc. and president of stores.
In an interview on Nordstrom’s progress in Canada, Jamie Nordstrom mentioned meeting the halfway point to a $1 billion in sales, and said the current view on Nordstrom Rack is to open 12 to 15 units over time.
Nordstrom was interviewed just prior to the opening of Nordstrom’s full-line store in CF Sherway Gardens on Toronto’s west end, which is also anchored by Hudson’s Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue. The two-level, 140,000-square-foot store is the retailer’s third location in Toronto following openings at CF Toronto Eaton Centre and Yorkdale Shopping Centre last fall. Nordstrom opened its first full-line store in Canada, in Calgary in 2014, and now also has full-line stores in Ottawa, Vancouver, downtown Toronto and Yorkdale.
The new Sherway store has five shoe departments selling Kate Spade New York, Vince Camuto, Ted Baker London, Tory Burch, Steve Madden, Adidas and Nike, among other labels; a bistro-style restaurant and bar; a coffee bar; “expansive” beauty and accessory areas, and men’s, women’s and children’s fashions.
The store is particularly big on selling coats, boots, sneakers and yoga pants and is Nordstrom’s first store in Toronto with a home area, which contains around 2,000 square feet for bed, bath, dining, home decor and gifts.
Nordstrom characterized the Sherway unit as a “core store” aimed at “people dressing across a lot of price points.…They’re looking for what’s cool and relevant.”
“We want our Sherway Gardens store to be an inclusive place to shop, and we’ve worked hard to bring in a balanced offering of the best fashion the market has to offer in a wide range of prices,” said Jennifer Gross, store manager at Nordstrom Sherway Gardens.
Nordstrom said the store has no “hard” designer shops or concessions, and is limited on “premium” merchandise though elsewhere in Canada, the opportunity to selling designer product is better than originally thought.
There’s also handbags from Rebecca Minkoff and Céline Dion; women’s apparel from Madewell, Rag & Bone, Alice + Olivia, Veronica Beard and Free People; beauty products from Charlotte Tilbury, Tom Ford, MAC, Nars, Chanel, Diptyque, Jo Malone and KBeauty from South Korea, and men’s wear from Billy Reid, John Varvatos, Canali, Hugo Boss, Wings and Horns.
Among the services, complimentary personal stylists, beauty stylists, a beauty concierge, the “Nordstrom to You” mobile personal stylist, a cell phone charging, kids’ shoe-tying classes, a first-walker shoe fitting experience, on-site alterations and tailoring, shoe and bra fitters, and prosthesis services.
Could Nordstrom open additional full-line stores in Canada? “At this point, we are not looking for more,” Nordstrom replied. “For now, we are happy with six full-line stores.” Nordstrom didn’t rule out possibly one day pursuing more full-line stores, citing Montreal as “a big super dynamic city” and Vancouver as a potentially a two-store market. “But right now we not doing any work on that. One hundred percent of our focus is on getting the first six Rack stores open. There’s a runway of 12 to 15. We’ve got six announced and continue to look at locations.
“The thing about Canada is, Vancouver is very different from Toronto and Toronto is very different from Ottawa. In eastern Canada, similar to the U.S., there are more longer-term tenured retailers that have a lot of loyalty. If you go west to newer towns, where people have not been living there a long time, there’s less loyalty.”
Regarding Canada as a billion dollar market, “We’re on track for that. How we get there and the sequencing of how stores might look a little different from 2011,” which is when Nordstrom officials suggested up to nine full-line stores and up to 25 Racks in Canada could potentially operate.
Originally, Rack stores were to open in early 2015. Delays, said Nordstrom, were “mostly around technology challenges, owning inventory in different currencies and adding some capabilities.” He said the company is back on track with the Rack rollout.
Aside from Canada, Nordstrom has other big projects in the works, including going private and experimenting with new retail formats. In its pursuit to go private, there have been reports speculating that Nordstrom is linking up with Leonard Green. Nordstrom declined to comment on its bid to go private.
Nordstrom is also opening Nordstrom Local, in West Hollywood, Calif., next month. The 3,000-square-foot store will be service heavy, give access to personal stylists and carry no inventory. “It’s a pilot,” said Nordstrom, geared to offer another way to shop and a more convenient way for some consumers to shop. “We are doing all sorts of tests like that,” Nordstrom said, adding that the company has about a dozen tests in motion.