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They appear to have pushed the opening date for hr2 at Vaughan Mills back from April 27 to May 10.

Holt Renfrew launches loft-like stores aimed at fashionistas on a budget

In a soft retail market being bombarded by newcomers like Target and Nordstrom, Holt Renfrew launches a new concept, hr2, aimed at budget shoppers.

By: Francine Kopun Business reporter, Published on Fri Apr 19 2013
Toronto Star

MONTREAL—Holt Renfrew has launched a new store design that should make Nordstrom feel a little uneasy.

The high-end retailer, better known for their haute fashion and prices to match, has launched a new line of stores called hr2, targeting the chic and budget-minded.

The first hr2 in Canada opened in March in a massive new shopping district called Quartier DIX30 in the Montreal suburb of Brossard. The second is slated to open in Toronto at Vaughan Mills on May 10.

In a total departure from the luscious, padded feel of the landmark Holt Renfrew on Bloor Street, the new hr2 store in the Brossard is hangar-sized, with a cement floor and high ceilings. It is airy, brightly lit, neat and smartly curated, with prices that will make bargain hunters feel victorious – a blue Eileen Fisher t-shirt with a suggested retail price of $135 was selling for $74 this week. A matching Eileen Fisher sweater was $144 instead of the suggested retail price of $265.

A Diane von Furstenberg dress with the required spring ruffles was priced at $172 instead of the suggested retail price of $325. A silk polka-dot-print dress from Armani Collezioni was priced at $538 instead of $1,075.

A casual men's shirt from Ted Baker London was priced at $99 instead of $185; a Hugo Boss men's slim shirt was $105 instead of $175. Beautifully tailored Holt Renfrew suits were priced at $599.

There were walls of purses, including a timeless Valentino for $999, walls of shoes for women, and a wide range of well-priced designer shoes for men, including Prada at $199 instead of $375 and Gucci and Hugo Boss for nearly half price.

In fact, the men’s selection was robust.

“We really feel that that’s an underdeveloped market. I think there’s great opportunity there. Men love brands and they love deals as well,” said Heather Arts, vice-president of hr2.

The concept has been in development at Holt Renfrew for a couple of years, said Arts, and Holt Renfrew was happy to be able to execute before the U.S. department store chain Nordstrom opens its first Canadian store in Calgary in 2014.

“Nordstrom is really competition for everyone and timing is everything, but it’s really because the real estate came up quickly and we wanted to take advantage of it,” said Arts.

Among other tactics, hr2 takes advantage of product cancellations from other retailers and relationships with existing vendors. It is also working with U.S. vendors and retailers to get product into the hr2 stores that will not otherwise be available in Canada.

And while the designer clothes sold at hr2 are current and in season, they are not fresh off the runway.

Some Holt Renfrew customers are so in tune with fashion, they want goods fresh off the runway, they want to be the first to wear it,” said Arts.

“It really is the same quality. We have a reputation and integrity to uphold. This is not about watering down product.”

A team of merchandisers will work in each store, ensuring merchandise and displays look sharp, to avoid the tossed-over look of some discount stores.

There will also be seasonal markdowns.

The hr2 store at DIX30 was well-staffed, with eight cash registers and 20 change rooms. The store at Vaughan Mills will be similarly set up, said Arts.

Other leading brands that will be sold at the stores include: Alice + Olivia, Diane von Furstenberg, Splendid, Michael Kors, Cole Haan, Ray-Ban, 7 for All Mankind, Nicole Miller, Elie Tahari, House of Harlow, Anzie, John Varvatos, Hunter and hr2 private label.

Nordstrom plans to enter Canada beginning in the fall of 2014, with five locations identified so far, including two in Toronto – at Sherway Gardens and Yorkdale – and in prime locations in Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa. It is also looking for Nordstrom Rack locations.

With prices that run the gamut from low to high, and customer service they claim is second-to-none, Nordstrom hopes to hit the midpoint market and up, serving Canadians who can't afford Holt Renfrew on a regular basis, and who for a long time, were not well-served by existing department stores in Canada, including the Bay and Sears.

But veteran retailer Bonnie Brooks, president of HBC, is sprucing up stores and wooing retailers from Burberry to Top Shop to open stores within the Bay, driving traffic in the hopes of driving up sales-per-square foot.

Sears Canada CEO Calvin McDonald is focused on wooing families back to shop at Sears, with a focus on moms and baby and children’s wear, home appliances and fashion.

Target meanwhile, has begun its planned expansion into Canada with 24 stores in Ontario and 124 across Canada by the end of the year, trying to scoop up bargain hunters who associate Target with discount design, even though competitors like Home Sense offer affordable home design too.

Retail consultant Jim Danahy of CustomerLAB in Toronto said that while the hr2 concept is new to Canada, Nordstrom is typically credited with developing the formula with Nordstrom Rack stores.

“It’s designed to say, this is not Holt Renfrew but it’s from Holt Renfrew. They are trying to make the brand envelope bigger without diluting the original.”

“At the very least, it is a very important defensive move since we know Nordstrom is coming.”

Holt Renfrew is in expansion mode after three years of record profits, Holt Renfrew president Mark Derbyshire has said.

On Friday, Holt Renfrew announced a new flagship store planned for spring 2016 at Square One shopping centre in Mississauga. The 120,000 square-foot store is part of an expansion that will add 40 per cent more square footage to the Holt Renfrew network across Canada.

There are currently nine Holt Renfrew stores in Canada. Holt Renfrew is hoping to establish a national presence with hr2 by 2015.

Holt Renfrew began in 1837 as a hat shop in Quebec City. It was bought in 1986 by W. Galen Weston and the Hon. Hilary M. Weston. It has 2,300 employees.
Luxury on a budget: hr2 opens in Vaughan Mills

The less expensive sibling to Holt Renfrew launched with style just north of Toronto Friday.

By: Francine Kopun Business reporter, Published on Fri May 10 2013
Toronto Star

Holt Renfrew president Mark Derbyshire knows how to open a store.

Drench the airwaves with advertising, seed social media; give $25 off to the first 200 customers.
Add some Barnum and Bailey-style circus theatre — Derbyshire hired dancers and a DJ to launch the new 25,000 sq. ft. hr2 at Vaughan Mills on Friday — and a long lineup will form before the store opens.

“You can’t run from what you’re meant to do and I love retail,” said Derbyshire, 43, the man behind the launch of the new discount arm of the brand.
“In my soul, I’m a shopkeeper. I love everything about it, the product, the theatre of the store, I love the customers.”

Derbyshire, a PhD in organizational behaviour, has led Holt Renfrew to three record years of firm growth, top and bottom line.
The privately-owned company does not release sales figures, but the renewed success of the brand is behind the company’s ambitious new expansion, adding 40 per cent more retail space to existing stores and building new ones, including the hr2 at Vaughan Mills shopping centre and another hr2 in the Montreal suburb of Brossard, both in vast discount shopping centres.
Holt Renfrew also announced in April that it would build a 120,000 flagship Holt Renfrew at Square One shopping centre in Mississauga, set to open in the spring of 2016.

The expansion takes place as discount retailer Target opens 124 locations in Canada this year and in advance of the arrival of Nordstrom, the Seattle based department store that has built a brand name around customer service.
Nordstrom plans to open its first store in Calgary in 2014, followed by locations in Ottawa and Vancouver and two in Toronto, including one at Yorkdale and one at Sherway Gardens.

The company is also looking for locations for its discount arm, Nordstrom Rack.

Derbyshire, born in Nova Scotia and raised in Toronto, Alberta and the U.S., learned the art of retail from his father and grandfather, both of whom owned Canadian Tire stores. He has a business degree and an MBA from the University of Montana.
Derbyshire has a strong background in human resources — he worked for executive-search firm Russell Reynolds Associates, among other jobs in human resources — and he’s known for getting the best out of people.

In September 2010, Derbyshire began a graduated incentive program for sales associates and invested in extensive product training. In 2009, Holt had 56 associates who sold $1 million a year. Two years later, twice as many associates did.
The goal with hr2, said Derbyshire, was to create an environment where shoppers could enjoy themselves while scooping up a bargain.

Like the Brossard store, the hr2 at Vaughan Mills is bright, spacious and colourful and loaded with one-time-only merchandise from designers ranging from Valentino to Michael Kors at deeply discounted prices.

Holt Renfrew said there will not be product overlap between the two chains.

“I’m quite impressed by the prices. We were told that once it’s sold, it’s gone. We like that idea too. You’re not coming in time and time again to see the same thing,” said Daniela Chiavaroli, who bought a pair of patent black Prada flats with bows for $249, reduced from $530. She shopped the location in its previous incarnation as Holt Renfrew Last Call.

Within an hour of opening on Friday, customers were stripping the shelves of Burberry and Mulberry purses in neutral shades at different price points.

Laura Kenny, 32, just happened to be in the mall when she saw the lineup and snagged a $25 discount card. She bought a pair of Versace sunglasses for $118, reduced from $346.

“I’ll certainly be back,” she said.

Heather Arts, vice-president of hr2, said that depending on the performance of the hr2 stores, Holt Renfrew could launch up to ten. The store in Brossard is doing well, especially the men’s department which, like the Vaughan Mills store, features well-tailored private label suits in addition to designers like Hugo Boss.

Arts, a graduate of Ryerson, helped launch Winners in Canada in the 1980s. She came to Holt Renfrew a year ago from Lowe’s Canada, where she was merchandising director. She rose to senior vice-president and general merchandising manager at Winners and was co-managing director for J. Michaels.

“People still want a nice shopping environment, regardless of what they’re paying for product,” said Arts.
There has been some discussion here about Montreal's Ogilvy's store, and how it fits into the bigger Holt Renfrew chain since its acquisition by the Selfridges Group. It appears there is now a (somewhat convoluted, IMHO) plan to merge the downtown Holt's and Ogilvy's stores into “Ogilvy, part of the Holt Renfrew & Co. collection”. Unclear precisely how it will be implemented, but interesting in the bigger scheme of the Canada-wide competition among Holt's, Nordstrom and HBC (incl. Saks).

Holt Renfrew bolsters Montreal luxury footprint with Ogilvy revamp


The Globe and Mail

Published Tuesday, Nov. 19 2013, 10:30 AM EST

Last updated Tuesday, Nov. 19 2013, 10:31 AM EST

Holt Renfrew & Co. Ltd. will expand its retail space in Montreal by merging its Ogilvy store with its own banner in one store, as it faces fiercer competition in the luxury retail sector.

On Tuesday, Holt’s will unveil its vision for a transformed Ogilvy store on the city’s prime St. Catherine’s Street shopping strip, turning it into the single largest outlet within the Holt’s network and adding more heft to the chain’s upscale fashion offerings. By 2017, Holt’s will create a re-branded “Ogilvy, part of the Holt Renfrew & Co. collection” to battle new upscale competitors.

Holt’s is gearing up for a changing luxury landscape: Next fall, U.S. upscale chain Nordstrom Inc. will arrive in Canada with its first store, and plans as many as 10 here eventually. Saks Fifth Avenue will also come to Canada within the next couple of years following this month’s acquisition of New York-based Saks Inc. by Hudson’s Bay Co. It plans about seven Saks outlets here, including one within it Montreal flagship store on St. Catherine’s Street.

Holt’s, the country’s leading luxury retailer, is expected to feel the effects of the new rivals as consumers try out the new players.

Owned by the Weston family’s Selfridges Group Ltd., Holt’s acquired Montreal’s high-end Ogilvy department store in 2011.

And Holt’s has been expanding in other ways. It is investing $300-million over the next couple of years to bolster its stores, including doubling the space at its location at Yorkdale Shopping Centre, one of the country’s top performing malls. Earlier this year, it launched its first two lower-priced hr2 stores, which will compete with Nordstrom’s Rack outlets and Saks’ Off Fifth, which are also slated to arrive in Canada within the next couple of years.

In Montreal, the new Ogilvy store will be 220,000 square feet, roughly twice the size of its current store a few blocks away on Sherbrooke Street. Holt’s said it will confirm “at a future date” its plans for that property post-2017. It’s expected to re-develop it and keep some retail space on the premises.

In the meantime, until 2017, the Holt’s will continue to operate the Sherbrooke Street store with plans for a new Prada shop and the recent introduction of a new Dior boutique. There had been speculation that Holt’s would drop the Ogilvy name entirely and replace the St. Catherine’s Street store with its own banner.

Now, the revamped St. Catherine’s Street Ogilvy store will expand to include an adjacent location, following a $60-million investment by Holt’s in the new store.

“The Montreal market presents a unique opportunity to leverage two storied brands,” said Mark Derbyshire, president of Holt’s. “Inspired by the best of both Holt Renfrew and Ogilvy, and based on extensive customer research, we have developed a grand vision with bold new concepts that celebrate Montreal’s rich fashion heritage and sophisticated shoppers.”

The re-branded Ogilvy’s will focus exclusively on luxury specialty retail fashion and beauty, while the store currently has a floor of home decor merchandise as well.

Ogilvy, founded by Scottish-born James Angus Ogilvy,established itself over the years as a Montreal institution, known for its daily lunchtime concert by a bagpiper winding his way through the aisles, a tradition that continues to this day.

The Weston family owns other luxury fashion retail chains, including Selfridges in Britain and Brown Thomas in Ireland. It also controls Canadian grocer Loblaw Cos. Ltd.

To steer the new Ogilvy concept, Holt’s named Joanne Nemeroff, a seasoned fashion retail executive who previously headed lingerie powerhouse Victoria’s Secret in Canada, as senior vice president of Ogilvy, part of the Holt Renfrew & Co. Collection, based in Montreal.
I read that twice and I'm still not sure I understand what is happening in Montreal.

It will basically be a bigger Holt Renfrew with the Ogilvy name attached. In other words, Ogilvy, as we all know it today, will cease to exist.
It will basically be a bigger Holt Renfrew with the Ogilvy name attached. In other words, Ogilvy, as we all know it today, will cease to exist.

We don't really know that. Mind you, Lysiane Gagnon is assuming the worst (from her perspective) and would agree with you. Personally I think it is way too early to judge, and I suspect Lysiane possibly overstates the differences in any event. Whether the awkward “Ogilvy, part of the Holt Renfrew & Co. collection” banner will end up meaning that the store is more like what we currently know as Ogilvy's, or more like Holt's, or more a combination of the two, remains a question that many in Montreal will probably be asking until the revamped store is complete.
Does anyone know what is happening at Holt and Renfrew Bloor on the concourse level, behind the hoarding that says "opening winter 2014"?
Holt Renfrew unveils Yorkdale redesign
Luxury retailer's new store included shaves, free facials, even a private apartment.

and interestingly - it says Holt Renfrew will be opening a men's store at 100 Bloor St West.

Holt Renfrew is in the midst of adding new stores and expanding and renovating existing ones; the plans include the expansion of the flagship location at 50 Bloor St. W. and a new menswear store at 100 Bloor St. W. opening later this year.
Is Holts still going to carry Menswear at their current location in addition to this new location? Or are they going to discontinue selling Menswear and use that space to expand women/accessories/cosmetics etc.

The article in The Globe and Mail makes clear that they will keep menswear at the main store. Unclear how this new men's store will differ from the menswear department in the main store.
I'm wondering if they're moving their more casual pieces over to 100 Bloor, while keeping more formal/higher end designer pieces at the main store?