It looks like Saks is set to take over the Hudson’s Bay Centre on Bloor St. as its Toronto flagship store.
“We are planning on putting a Saks at Yonge and Bloor, but it is not confirmed at this time,” Hudson’s Bay Company spokesperson Freda Colbourne said in an email Friday.
Richard Baker, HBC’s chairman and CEO, has been scoping out locations for the luxury retailer since announcing a $2.9 billion (U.S.) takeover of Saks Inc. last summer. The deal was finalized three weeks ago.
The U.S. real estate mogul played coy on Black Friday when asked if HBC’s current longtime digs at Yonge and Bloor will be the new Canadian site of the high-end department store.
“While it’s an excellent location, it’s not confirmed,” he told the Star.
“We are definitely planning on rolling out Saks in Canada and we are still debating locations,” he added.
He wouldn’t provide a timeline, but analysts expect it will be soon, given the quickly moving retail landscape in Toronto.
Embattled Sears Canada laid off another 800 staff last Tuesday in the midst of closing down its Eaton Centre store, along with stores in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Square One and Sherway Gardens. Liquidation sales are underway leading up to the closures in early 2014.
The new tenant to take over the Sears location that anchors the Eaton Centre – prime real estate near the Queen St. Hudson’s Bay store – remains the subject of much speculation in industry circles.
Meanwhile, U.S. retailer Nordstrom announced it is setting up shop across Canada next fall, starting in Calgary.
“Bloor St. is a really obvious location for Saks since The Bay has never been particularly good there,” said Toronto retail analyst Wendy Evans.
“It will be a draw and a great addition to Bloor St.,” she said.
She added the Saks Fifth Avenue brand in that particular spot would give Holt Renfrew on Bloor St. W. a run for its money. The current Hudson’s Bay outlet is also more than twice the size of Holt’s, at 342,000 square feet.
“They have to come out big because Holt’s has commanded Bloor St. for a long time,” noted Evans.
Saks carries luxury brands such as Hugo Boss, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Chanel and Dolce and Gabbana, which is a perfect fit for the high-fashion destination, she said.
Under the HBC banner are 90 Bay stores, 48 Lord and Taylor stores and 69 Home Outfitters, along with 42 Saks locations across the U.S.
Brookfield Properties, which runs the Hudson’s Bay Centre, declined comment.
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