Tuesday 22 September 2015

Sherway Gardens Debuts New Expansion

Cadillac Fairview officially opened new Sherway Gardens North Expansion today.

Sherway Gardens North Expansion
Part of a multi-year overhaul of the shopping centre, the expansion adds an additional 210,000 square feet of retail space including a new 23,000 square foot Harry Rosen store.

Sherway Gardens North Expansion
Formerly housed in the mall's south wing (which is slated for redevleopment with a new Nordstrom location) the "Gourmet Fare" food court and Sporting Life have relocated to the North Expansion.

Sporting Life Sherway Gardens
The North Expansion introduces new stores Ted Baker, Saje, Steve Madden, Nespresso, and H&M. As well as new locations for Maison Birks, Roots, Geox, and Club Monaco. Soon to open are Links of London, Indigo, Samsung, and Reiss.

Holt Renfrew Sherway Gardens
Holt Renfrew is accessible via the North Expansion, however faces an uncertain future in the mall as it plans a new flagship at Square One in Mississauga slated to open in 2016.

New CF Sherway Gardens Branding
Today's launch also signaled the beginning of new branding for Cadillac Fairview malls across the country. The strategy will include a naming convention that will see the initials CF precede the mall name, such as CF Sherway Gardens, CF Toronto Eaton Centre, etc. The move echos Australian-based mall operator Westfield which prominantly brands its international properties with its name and logo.

Sherway Gardens North Expansion

"Cadillac Fairview's new visual identity highlights for shoppers that our properties provide a consistently welcoming and engaging retail destination," said Jason Anderson, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Cadillac Fairview in a press release.  "Putting a new logo on the door is the easy part. The real work is designing and implementing changes to the way consumers experience our shopping centres. We know technology and unique and engaging experiences will play a big role in changing the way people think of the shopping mall."

New signage with the CF branding is now visible throughout the mall on signs and directories. Next up in the Sherway Gardens redevelopment will be the opening of Saks Fifth Avenue and SportChek in the former Sears space at the east end of the mall in 2016. Nordstrom is planned to open in the south wing in 2017.

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Westbank Announces Plans for Honest Ed's Site

Mixed-use development to rise at corner of Bloor and Bathurst.

Bloor Street Looking South
Westbank, a Vancouver-based property developer, purchased the 1.8-hectare Honest Ed's/Mirvish Village site in 2013. This week they announced their plans at a neighbourhood open house

The unique proposal omits traditional condos for a mixed use development that includes 1000 rental units (many of them family sized) and a mixture of retail and commercial space, with a marketplace dubbed "Mirvish Village Market." The retail component will be largely small scale and echo the storefronts that line Bloor Street.

Bathurst Street Storefronts
For the residential component, Westbank is proposing three towers of between 21-29 storeys in height, the largest at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst. The entire development will be around a million square feet and proposes significant densification in a largely low-to-mid rise neighbourhood.

Westbank says their development plans will be informed by the German phrase “Gesamtkunstwerk,” a word adopted by the Bauhaus movement to describe the incorporation of the arts into design. At the Mirvish site, Westbank has promised a conversation with neighbourhood residents with a speaker series. Another open house is planned for the fall ahead of pre-application meetings with the City.

Monday 29 September 2014

Holt Renfrew Men Suiting Up for October Opening

Holt Renfrew targets men with new Bloor Street store.
Holt Renfrew Men

Today Holt Renfrew announced that their Holt Renfrew Men store at 100 Bloor Street West will officially open October 1st. At 16,500 square-feet, Holt Renfrew Men will provide a dedicated space to men's luxury brands.

"Holt Renfrew is proud to enhance its unique position as Canada's specialty luxury retailer," said Holt Renfrew President Mark Derbyshire. "As part of our substantive growth and customer experience strategy, we are pleased to present Holt Renfrew Men: a personalized retail experience tailored to the modern man."

Showcased will be menswear, shoes, and accessory collections from brands such as Bottega Veneta, Canali, Zenga, Gucci, and Paul Smith. Holt Renfrew has also partnered with local menswear purveyor Walter Beauchamp Tailors to offer bespoke suiting.

Holt Renfrew Men Interior
With the opening of Holt Renfrew Men comes new masculine branding. The HR logo is rendered in a solid cube and the signature magenta is replaced here with warm grey.

Holt Renfrew Men Branding
The store was designed by Janson Goldstein, a New York based firm that recently worked on Holt Renfrew's renovated Yorkdale store. As at Yorkdale, Holt Renfrew Men will include dedicated shopping suites and personal shoppers. Alterations, a valet service, shoe shining, and monogramming round out the store's offerings.

Holt Renfrew Men
Holt Renfrew Men is part of a multi-year $300 million company wide investment to expand the chain's retail square footage by 40%. Also planned is a new store at Mississauga's Square One, extensive renovations at the Bloor Street flagship, and an e-commerce website scheduled to launch next year.

The opening comes as retailers Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue prepare to enter the Toronto market. Holt Renfrew Men will aim to solidify the retailer's menswear business and will no doubt ensure competition for the Harry Rosen flagship just steps away.

[Press release and images via Holt Renfrew]

Thursday 11 September 2014

Nordstrom Introduces A New Way to Shop ... Via Instagram

Venerable retailer aims to reach millennial shoppers with social media platform.

Nordstrom's Instagram feed (left) and Like2Buy page (right)
For years retailers have been looking for ways to channel the power of social media. To varying degrees of success, brands have been using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to connect with a generation of customers largely unreachable via traditional advertising methods.

Instagram is one space that has been challenging to commercialize. Largely ad free, (although Michael Kors ran Instagram's first ad last year), Instagram offers a huge potential audience to a brand.

Nordstrom is partnering with Curalate to "bridge the gap" between their Instagram feed and their online store with Like2Buy. By using Like2Buy, a retailer can make their Instagram feed instantly shoppable.

When customers browse Nordstrom's Instagram feed they'll see a "Link in profile" caption atop product photos. By then accessing the main Nordstrom profile page, customers can use the link to access Like2Buy. From there customers can purchase those items directly from the Nordstrom e-commerce website.

"We continue to hear from many of our customers that they want speed and convenience incorporated into all the places they shop – including our social platforms," said Bryan Galipeau, social media director at Nordstrom in the official launch announcement. "We connect with more than 500,000 customers on Instagram by posting items we hope they find inspirational, beautiful and fun. Like2Buy enhances the experience for customers who want to take the next step and learn more about the great fashion we're featuring, to make a purchase or save items for another time."

Nordstrom is opening its first Canadian store September 19th at Calgary's Chinook Centre. While there is no dedicated domestic e-commerce site, Canadian shoppers can utilize Link2Buy and purchase via the US Nordstrom website.

Thursday 28 August 2014

Holt Renfrew Announces Store Enhancements and Closures

Moves are part of a multi-year strategic refocusing on flagship doors.

Holt Renfrew Bloor Street
Holt Renfrew has confirmed details about plans to refine their operations.

"We are focused on Holt Renfrew's unique position as Canada's specialty luxury retailer," said Holt Renfrew President Mark Derbyshire. "As part of our dynamic growth strategy, we are announcing further updates in our plans to expand our flagship store network."

The Holt Renfrew Bloor Street flagship will be completely renovated and expanded and complemented with a new Holt Renfrew Men store at 100 Bloor Street. Modeled on Holt Renfrew Yorkdale's recently renovated menswear department, and set to open this fall, Holt Renfrew Men will be a standalone store with a focus on suiting.

Holt Renfrew Men 100 Bloor Street West
Last year Holt Renfrew announced the opening of a new 120,000 square foot store at Mississauga's Square One Shopping Centre. With the announcement came news that Holts was working to increase their total retail square footage by 40%, growing from 800,000 to over 1.2 million square feet. The move follows plans from Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue to open stores in Canada.

The Bloor Street flagship (along with stores in Vancouver and Calgary) will have a new Apartment private shopping suite. This new concept was recently unveiled at the Yorkdale location.

Holt Renfrew Yorkdale's Apartment
Holt Renfrew also confirmed it was developing an omni-channel e-commerce platform that is set to be unveiled in 2015. Models for this platform could be the websites of sister brands Selfridges and Brown Thomas. Both retailers maintain comprehensive e-commerce websites and carry a range of luxury labels.

Websites of Selfridges and Brown Thomas
Included in today's announcement was the planned closure of two small Holt Renfrew locations in Ottawa and Quebec City. Both locations were approximately 35,000 square feet and are slated to close in early 2015. Two small format Holt Renfrew doors remain at Toronto's Sherway Gardens and in Edmonton. Despite the closures, the company expects overall employment levels to grow through 2017 due to its expansion plans.

[Images and press release via Holt Renfrew]

Tuesday 12 August 2014

The Film Buff East to Close

Local east end institution to close in September.

Lately the news has been full of stories of bookshops and video stores falling under the ruthless hammer of the internet and closing for good. Now one of Toronto's favourite (and few remaining) art house video stores has announced its closure.

The Film Buff East, located at 1380 Queen Street East, is one of a pair of independent video rental and ice cream shops (the Film Buff West is located on Roncesvalles Avenue and will remain open). The shop has a collection of almost 30,000 DVDs and Blu-rays with a particular emphasis on independent film, documentaries, and television programs.

In a statement on its Facebook page, The Film Buff explained the reason's behind the closure:

"I guess it's a story everyone can relate to, an example of the intersection between new and traditional ways of accessing media," said The Film Buff. "For those who remain passionate about film as an art form, it's about loss... the loss of relatively easy access to high fidelity presentations of great works of cinema. For those who see movies as pure entertainment, as a bit of escapism for a Tuesday night, they don't see what all the fuss is about. Netflix has everything they could possibly want anyways."

Starting August 23rd the Film Buff East will begin selling its extensive collection which includes many rare and hard to find items.

The Film Buff East closes its doors for good on September 2nd.

[Image via The Film Buff]

Wednesday 30 July 2014

The Battle Over a Milk Jug

Mac's Convenience Stores to sell 3 litre milk jugs as part of pilot project.

The dairy industry, like many agribusinesses, is a highly regulated one. Many consumers would be surprised to learn that their choices of milk containers are regulated by the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission. In Ontario the Milk Act regulates “the types and sizes of containers that shall be used for fluid milk products,” which currently does not allow for a 3 litre container.

Milk is typically sold in cartons of between 1-2 litres, or in bags totalling 4 litres per package. The Ontario Dairy Council is petitioning to open the field to a 3 litre middle option, but has encountered stiff resistance from dairy farmers. The producers fear that a 3 litre size will spur consumers to downsize.

Mac's Convenience Stores received the green light from the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission to sell 3 litre plastic milk jugs as part of a one year trial. While retailers argue the move is about increasing consumer choice, another motive may be at play. Many large grocery and convenience stores rely on milk as a loss leader, selling it at little to no profit in order to get customers through their doors and sell them more profitable items. Providing a smaller milk format would allow retailers to market a lower priced item, but not necessarily sell more milk.

Monday 28 July 2014

Apple's iBeacon Technology Comes to Hudson's Bay

Partnership with Swirl to deliver targeted promotional messages to customers.

Hudson's Bay Queen Street will deploy Apple's iBeacon

Hudson's Bay announced today that working with Swirl it was launching an in-store smartphone marketing platform. Using beacon technology, the retailer will deliver targeted content via their own and third party phone apps in selected stores.

Launched by Apple in 2013, iBeacon allows technology companies and retailers to reach consumers via apps running on their mobile phones. Small puck-like devices are installed inside stores which trigger the apps on a consumer's smartphone. The retailer can deliver customized welcome messages, promote special offers, and even target the message to specific departments as a customer walks through a store. In more advanced systems iBeacon can also be used to facilitate payments.

"Beacon technology is the future of retail marketing and Swirl's platform will assist us to make every visit to Hudson's Bay or Lord & Taylor even more rewarding for our customers." said Michael Crotty, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at HBC.

The Swirl beacons utilize Apple's iBeacon technology as well as Bluetooth transmission to deliver content. Multiple beacons will trigger as customers travel throughout the store providing promotional content. The size of a department store is a particular advantage for this technology as it allows the retailer to deliver multiple messages across a broad array of product categories. In Toronto, Hudson's Bay will be targeting its Yorkdale and Queen Street locations. Consumers will have to download either the Hudson's Bay or SnipSnap apps and opt in to receive the messages.

The initiative is also being rolled out to selected locations at Hudson's Bay sister retailer Lord & Taylor in the United States. The moves coincides with HBC's recently announced expanded e-commerce and digital marketing initiatives. Within five years, the company expects to achieve 20% of revenues from online sources.

With consumers increasingly reliant on smartphones, retailers are looking for innovative ways to reach their customers. Though Macy's has recently been testing beacons, HBC's move marks the first time a major department store retailer has deployed the technology on a large scale.

Hotel groups Hilton and Starwood have also been experimenting with enhancing the consumer experience via iBeacon. At Starwood's Aloft chain, guests can use their phones as room keys and bypass the standard check-in procedure.

[Click here for the official Press Release]

Monday 14 April 2014

Preview: New Hudson's Bay Queen Street Home Floor

Reborn seventh floor to officially open in May.

Hudson's Bay Queen Street Seventh Floor
For years the seventh floor at the Hudson's Bay Queen Street flagship was overlooked and housed only a small appliance department and stockrooms. All that has changed as the floor is being reborn with the addition of Kleinfeld Bridal and a brand new home department.

Hudson's Bay Queen Street - a cash desk on the seventh floor
The seventh floor is meant to be a one-stop destination for housewares and help cement the retailer's reputation as gift registry experts (they maintain the country's largest gift registry).

Hudson's Bay Queen Street - casual dining department

The china and glassware department has begun the move from their former fifth floor location, and other home departments will move in the coming weeks. Windows have been uncovered creating a modern, open, and light-filled space.

Hudson's Bay Queen Street - new housewares department
Brides visiting the adjoining Kleinfeld Bridal boutique will be able to shop and create gift registries all on the same floor.

Hudson's Bay Queen Street - a demonstration kitchen nears completion
Whereas previously home departments were scattered throughout the large store, now they will be found together on the seventh floor (with furniture and appliances one level below).

Hudson's Bay Queen Street - a feature wall in the casual dining department
The grand opening for Kleinfeld Bridal and the rejuvenated seventh floor is set for May.