Saks Fifth Avenue will open a 200,000-square-foot store in Montreal by carving out space from the 650,000-square-foot Hudson’s Bay store on Boulevard de Maisonneuve.
This story first appeared in the September 23, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Hudson’s Bay Co., the parent of Saks Fifth Avenue, Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor department stores, said Thursday that Saks in Montreal will be the luxury chain’s largest store in Canada, and will take a similar approach to CF Toronto Eaton Centre, where Saks also carved out space within the Hudson’s Bay flagship on Queen Street.
The four-level Saks unit will include an 80,000-square-foot Quebec-themed food hall, leaving 120,000 square feet for fashion including women’s designer ready-to-wear, handbags, accessories, beauty, men’s, 10022-Shoe and the Fifth Avenue Club for personal service.
The Montreal Saks store is expected to open in fall 2018. The Saks stores on Queen Street and Sherway Gardens, both in Toronto, opened earlier this year. Saks Canada also plans to open a store in Chinook Centre in Calgary in 2018. No other Saks locations in Canada have been revealed.
Marc Metrick, president of Saks Fifth Avenue, said Montreal shoppers “are known for their impeccable style. Montreal has that kind of customer we can have fun with from a fashion standpoint. The city is ripe for the full Saks experience.”
Saks has become a strong believer in bringing food into its offering and is adding food halls at certain of its locations, including Brickell Center in Miami next year and Eaton Centre in Toronto. There is already a food hall operating inside the Saks in Sherway Gardens in Toronto. “It’s about really building environments that become destinations,” Metrick said, adding that people want dining options and the sensation of experiencing something different.
Saks will have pass-throughs into the Hudson’s Bay store, though Metrick stressed, “Each store will have its unique and specific feeling. We are looking [to create] a holistic customer experience” so customers cross-shop the stores.
While Saks in Montreal gets built, the Hudson’s Bay unit will remain open and undergo extensive renovation to “reconfigure the store layout, redefine departments and enhance the shopping environment,” said Liz Rodbell, president of the Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor divisions of HBC.
The strategy in Montreal reflects satisfaction with the performance of the Saks and Hudson Bay stores in Toronto, which are located side-by-side on Queen Street.
Rodbell said the company is “very pleased” with the setup in Toronto, that putting Saks next to Hudson’s Bay “has made the location even more of destination” and that the two retail nameplates are “extremely complementary.”
Asked whether Saks is cannibalizing business from Hudson’s Bay, Rodbell replied, “We have seen no decline in our business, not at all. We believe the same thing will happen in Montreal.”
Hudson’s Bay Montreal will “absolutely reimagine its space, create a more compelling environment” across much of the store including footwear, home, men’s, beauty and women’s fashion, she said.
With Saks moving in, some categories at Hudson’s Bay are likely to shrink in size, though Rodbell said there’s a lot of back-of-house space that can be converted to selling space. “We definitely see an opportunity for the building to be more productive.”
Asked if the company is considering carving space out of other Hudson Bay stores to create Saks units, or for other uses, Rodbell replied, “Not at this time. We have nothing to announce today.”
Aside from Saks, Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay, Hudson’s Bay Co. operates Gilt, Saks Off 5th and Home Outfitters and, in Europe, Galeria Kaufhof, Galeria Inno and Sportarena.